A clinical exam is more commonly referred to as a routine check up. This check up lets your dentist essentially take inventory of the overall health of your mouth and teeth and diagnose any potential problems you may have.
- The first thing your dentist will check during the exam is your face and neck. Checking visually, your dentist will look for any abnormalities, such as lumps, bumps or swelling.
- Checking inside your mouth is next on the agenda. During this part of the check up your dentist will be looking for any abnormalities in the soft tissue, such as discolorations or ulcers on your lips, gums, tongue, palate and cheeks. Your dentist will also perform an oral cancer screening and will check your bite and your jaw joint for any problems.
- Next your dentist will check your gums and jawbone, as they are the foundation for your teeth. Your dentist will check them for any signs of gingivitis, gum disease and bone disease.
Checking your teeth comes next. Your dentist will be checking them for cavities and other problems. Finally, your dentist will be sure to look specifically at any areas where you may have symptoms or concerns.
In most cases a clinical exam by itself is not sufficient to completely diagnose all potential problems with your mouth. In fact, the majority of problems with your teeth and the jawbone are not visible to the naked eye. That is why x-rays play a key role in allowing a better, and more accurate look at what is really going on inside your mouth and below your teeth and gums. By using x-rays your dentist can check for any bone loss and determine the severity of the gum disease.
In addition to revealing any problems that were not visible during the clinical exam these initial x-rays will also provide your dentist with a benchmark with which to compare against during your future visits.
Dental Home Care
No treatment will be effective unless you follow it up with routine and proper home care.
This means you should brush and floss regularly after every meal and at a minimum
twice a day. The key is not only to do it regularly but also to do it right. Here's how.
To properly floss you should wind the floss around both of your index fingers and push it
between each of your teeth in your mouth. Make sure to freely move the floss upwards,
downwards and even sideways to remove any food particles or plaque that may be
lodged between your teeth or under the gums.
Many people these days use an electric toothbrush such as a Sonicare or Oral B.
Whether you use an electric or still prefer a manual brush you should hold the brush at
a 45-degree angle to your teeth. Gently, but thoroughly, rotate the bristles across your
teeth and under your gums with a backward and forward motion. Be sure to also get the
top surfaces of your teeth where you bite or chew on food. Your tongue can also be
cleaned with your toothbrush, which will help reduce bad breath. Lastly it is important to
brush the inside surfaces of your teeth with the same rotating motion.
When brushing, it is important to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps
harden the outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, which will prevent cavities and also
reduce bacteria in the mouth. It can also reverse the formation of smaller cavities.
Lastly, antibacterial rinses can also help reduce bacteria in the mouth. Please check
with your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any additional questions.
In the U.S., an estimated three out of four adults have some level of gum disease, and
many don't realize it. Gum disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums and the
surrounding tissue. Generally caused by bacterial plaque, it is the biggest cause of adult
How Gum Disease Develops
Plaque, a thin, colorless film, is caused by bacteria in your mouth and it develops on
your teeth. Left untreated, bacterial plaque will harden to tartar. A rough, porous mineral
buildup usually yellow or brown in color, tartar forms at and underneath the gum line.
Tartar excretes the toxins that cause gum inflammation, resulting in the development of
periodontal pockets that hold even more toxins and bacteria. This condition can lead to
the loosening of the teeth, or even make teeth fall out. As the condition worsens, the
accumulated toxins and bacteria move deeper into the jaw to destroy the bone that
holds your teeth in place.
What to Look For
Stopping the progression of gum disease before it escalates can save patients added
time, discomfort, and expense. Signs of gum disease can include:
Red, inflamed gums
Bleeding while brushing or flossing
Loose or separating teeth
Presence of pus between the gum and tooth
A Bigger Problem
Gum disease can wreak havoc on your mouth, but it can also cause other health
concerns. Research has linked gum disease to problems such as heart disease,
osteoporosis, stroke, and complications with diabetes. Because the symptoms are
initially mild, many people don't realize they have gum disease, which can allow the
condition to worsen. You may have an increased risk for gum disease if you smoke,
have diabetes, take certain medications, endure excessive stress, or don't eat properly.
Treating Gum Disease
Periodontics is the area of dentistry that focuses on gum disease treatment. If caught in
the early stages, your dentist can reverse gum disease. To begin, the dentist will scale
the teeth to remove plaque and calculus, and plane the roots to smooth them. The
doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to clear up any infection or inflammation.
Advanced cases may require your dentist to surgically trim the gums, disinfect the
tissue, remove the hardened plaque build-up, and re-contour the damaged bone.
My gums bleed when I brush. Should I be worried?
If you had bleeding on your arm or leg, you would check it out. Because bleeding gums
can indicate a more serious problem like gum disease, you should make an
appointment with your dentist to check it out.
Is gum disease hereditary?
Although there is a genetic component to gum disease, other factors, like lifestyle
choices, age, and oral health habits, can also influence whether you develop this
condition. Talk with your dentist to find out if you have other risk factors for gum
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
The best prevention is taking proper care of your teeth and gums. Good brushing
habits, regular flossing, and routine dental visits will go a long way to avoiding
What is the cure for gum disease?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for gum disease. However, proper treatment and good
home care can stop the progression of the disease and restore your oral health.
Pediatric dental exams are more extensive than just looking at the teeth. The dentist performs a
review of the child’s health history to determine if there is a need for any special dental care.
The examination will note the health and condition of the teeth, gums, soft tissues, head and
neck. The dentist also monitors the growth of the jaws and development of the teeth, and
evaluates any oral habits, such as thumb sucking. The dentist will use all of these factors to
make a diagnosis and create a custom treatment plan and instructions for home care.
Pediatric Dental Cleaning
The dentist or hygienist will clean the child’s teeth to remove any plaque or calculus. Without
treatment, this build up can cause gum disease and tooth decay. The dentist will also treat the
teeth with fluoride to strengthen them and make them resistant to tooth decay. Cleanings and
fluoride treatments are recommended twice a year to maintain your child’s dental health and
Oral Hygiene Instructions:
Prevention is a vital part of your child’s dental care. The dentist will provide instructions and tips
on home dental care, such as brushing techniques. The dentist may also provide a list of foods
and habits that should be avoided.
Children generally need x-rays more often than adults since their mouths grow and change
rapidly. They are also more susceptible to tooth decay. Pediatric dentists can use x-rays to
survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, analyze the extent of an oral injury, or plan
orthodontic treatment. Pediatric x-rays allow the dentist to diagnose and treat conditions that
cannot be visually detected during an oral examination. If dental problems are identified and
treated early, dental care will be less invasive and affordable.
Pediatric dentists are careful to minimize the exposure of your child to radiation. Lead body
aprons and shields help protect the child's body, and modern dental equipment is designed to
focus the x-ray beam only where needed and filter out unnecessary x-rays. Use of high-speed
film and digital x-rays help minimize radiation exposure.
For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
recommends x-ray examinations every six months to detect cavities developing between the
teeth. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require x-rays less frequently.
Panoramic x-rays may sometimes be necessary to view the child's entire mouth and jaws. It
shows any permanent teeth that are missing, abnormal growth, extra teeth or other oral issues.
A panoramic is typically scheduled when a child's 6th year molars erupt and then once every 3-
5 years after that. Sometimes a panoramic may be recommended if there has been physical
trauma to the jaw.
Pediatric dentists use sealants to help prevent tooth decay. Sealants are made of clear plastic
and are applied to the chewing surface area of the tooth. Some teeth tend to have depressions
and grooves which are difficult for the child to clean. Sealants are used to fill these depressions
to deter tooth decay. Application of the sealant is quick, painless, and can be effective for many
years if your child practices good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects.
Tooth Colored Filings:
Tooth colored porcelain fillings are usually used to enhance the front teeth where appearance is
the most important. They are also used to also repair chipped or decayed teeth anywhere in the
mouth. The benefit of tooth colored fillings is that they are hard to distinguish from the natural
Stainless Steel Crowns:
Stainless steel crowns are silver colored caps that cover the whole tooth. Pediatric dentists
favor stainless steel crowns for restoring back teeth with extensive decay or decay in between
the teeth. Stainless steel crowns are is the most durable, and last until the baby tooth falls out
around the age of 12.
Endodontic or root canal treatment focuses on the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves
and blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the tooth. Endodontic treatment is
performed in order to save the tooth when the pulp gets infected or injured. During treatment,
the hollow area inside the tooth is cleaned, disinfected and filled.
When the pulp has been injured by trauma, decay or other causes, endodontic treatment is
usually the best way to try to save the tooth. Unless a child’s tooth is about to fall out, a dentist
may recommend endodontic treatment on a child's primary (baby) tooth. Without treatment, the
child will experience pain or discomfort, and infection may result. Early extraction of the primary
tooth is usually not advisable because primary teeth are necessary for chewing and for learning
proper pronunciation during language development. Also if a baby tooth is extracted too early,
neighboring teeth can shift and occupy some of the vacant space making it difficult for the
permanent tooth to grow in properly.
Symptoms that indicate a need for endodontic treatment can include toothache, sensitivity to hot
and cold, or if the pulp has been exposed from fracture and the child is experiencing sensitivity.
The type of endodontic treatment that may be recommended depends on how seriously the pulp
is affected, an evaluation of the tooth and the results of an X-ray.
Primary teeth or baby teeth play an important role in a child's life for proper chewing, speaking
and speech development. Primary teeth also maintain proper spacing for the permanent teeth
and help guide the permanent teeth when they finally cut through the gums. So whenever
possible, dentists try to preserve the natural baby tooth when treating for decay or damage.
However, there are times when it is necessary to remove a baby tooth. Extraction of a tooth
may be necessary in the following situations:
The tooth is too damaged or decayed to be restored
The tooth fails to loosen and fall out on its own and blocks the adult tooth from emerging
Teeth need to be removed due to crowding or for orthodontic purposes
Impacted or un-erupted wisdom teeth
Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may start to shift, resulting in problems with
spacing and growth and development. To avoid these problems, the dentist may place a space
Space maintainers are necessary when a primary tooth(baby tooth) has been lost prematurely.
A space maintainer holds open the gap where the permanent tooth will come in, and avoids
shifting of the neighboring teeth. Space maintainers can be fixed or removable, and they can be
unilateral (fixed to one side of the mouth) or bilateral (fixed to both sides of the mouth). For
younger patients, fixed space maintainers are usually recommended.
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a type of sedation that can be administered when a
child is scared and not able to relax. It is also used with patients who have sensitive gag
Our dental office is devoted to general and family dentistry. As your primary dental care provider, we are responsible for the general diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of a wide range of dental conditions, disorders, and diseases that affect the teeth, gums, jaw, and face. We provide the coordination of services related to the oral health needs for patients of all ages so everyone in your entire family can visit our practice.
General dentistry includes:
- Preventive care visits
- Restorative services like fillings, crowns, and bridges
- Fitting and placement of dentures
- Pediatric treatment
- Root canal therapy
With a highly educated, well-trained team, we will develop the best course of treatment for your complete dental needs. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!
Finding the Perfect Dentist
Selecting the right person to care for your family's dental health takes careful consideration. A good dentist combines clinical expertise with warmth and a genuine concern for patients. Points to consider:
- Are your goals, concerns, and ultimate satisfaction seen as important?
- Can you count on the dentist to focus on keeping your teeth health and strong?
- Did the doctor obtain his degree from a well-respected school?
- Does the dentist explain things in detail and include you as part of the team?
- Have you heard positive feedback about this doctor and practice?
Questions about General Dentistry
Why do I need to visit every six months if I don't have any problems?
Preventive care is less expensive than repairing damage. Certain problems, like gum disease and early signs of decay, offer few warning signs. Regular visits allow us to monitor your oral health and catch any issues before they become big trouble.
How is a filling different from a crown?
Made from composite resin, tooth-colored fillings replace decay that only impacts a portion of the tooth. With severe damage, your will likely need a dental crown, which fits securely over the remaining tooth structure and completely covers the tooth.
When should my child first visit the dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends starting visits when children get teeth, usually at age one. However, we often find that kids do best around three years old. At this time, the doctor can take a look to make sure everything is on target, and we can start to create positive feelings for your child so that he or she will look forward to visiting the dentist. If your child is experiencing any discomfort or has had trauma to his/her mouth/teeth, it is important to have your child seen as soon as possible.
I have metal fillings. Should I replace them?
At one time, amalgam fillings were the standard for restoring teeth. Now, most dentists prefer composite fillings. These fillings match your natural tooth color, won't leak over time, and don't contain any metal. If your old fillings aren't causing you problems, you can choose to leave them in place, but if you want more aesthetic restorations, talk with your doctor about composite fillings as a replacement option.
What Is A Cavity? & Why Did You Get One?
Cavities, as their name implies, are essentially holes in your teeth caused by decay. You can sometimes spot a cavity, as the area surrounding the hole generally looks dark brown or gray.
The main culprits to blame for your cavity are certain types of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are contained in plaque and they interact with the carbohydrates and sugars in your food creating an acidic environment that dissolves the protective enamel on the outer layer of your tooth. Once the acid succeeds in eroding the enamel, your tooth is exposed, leaving just the softer dentin layer, which will ultimately cause the formation of a cavity. At this point the decay process rapidly speeds up and spreads deeper into the tooth.
Why Do I Need A Filling?
A filling is necessary to treat your cavity because if left untreated the decay will eventually grow and will enter into your nerve canal. And yes, this can be as painful as it sounds. It can also lead to more serious problems such as infection or abscess.
A filling may also be needed to replace or repair an old worn down existing filling or to fix a chipped tooth.
In addition to potential pain and discomfort and possible tooth loss, if you wait to have your cavity filled it may end up requiring a more difficult process, such as a root canal, to save your tooth. And it could also cost you a lot more money to fix. The bottom line is you should get your cavity filled as soon as you can.
(Tooth Color Fillings)
Composite is the filling material of choice when it comes to matching your tooth color. Composite fillings consist of plastic and glass particles. They have become the most popular filling materials because they can match your existing tooth color and they also solidly bond or glue to the tooth.
After the decay in your tooth has been cleaned a cleansing gel is applied. Next a bonding solution is applied, finally followed by the composite filling material. Composite is hardened by applying a high intensity blue light. It only takes a few seconds for the materials to harden.
Once the tooth is filled and the composite has hardened, the filling is checked to insure the proper shape and look. At this point any necessary adjustments are made and then your filling is complete.
New Composite Filling Expectations
Following the filling procedure it is very common to experience some discomfort, normally at the site of the anesthetic or at the tooth itself. To alleviate the discomfort you can follow your dentist recommendation on taking an over the counter pain medication such as Advil that contains ibuprofen. If your symptoms persist then you should visit your dentist.
In some cases the decay could be quite deep and close to the nerve of the tooth. In these instances the nerve could already be infected with bacteria. Even though a filling has been placed, there is still a good chance that the tooth may need to go under root canal therapy to relieve the discomfort.
Also, composite fillings may change color over time and can sometimes chip away from the tooth.
Endodontics/Root Canal Therapy
What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy is the most commonly performed procedure amongst all endodontic treatment procedures. An Endodontist performs root canal treatment to treat problems related to the soft inner pulp of a tooth.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canal treatment is required when nerve tissue inside the teeth degenerates. Without root canal treatment, the infection in the tooth pulp can result in an abscess, which in turn can cause damage to the jawbone. You will need a root canal to save your tooth and to ensure that the tissue around the root of the tooth remains healthy and free from inflammation.
There are several reasons why your tooth may become irritated and inflamed, such as: deep decay, big fillings, trauma to the tooth, a chipped tooth or even repeated dental work.
What are the symptoms or signs that a root canal is needed?
You may need a root canal if a tooth is causing you pain or if the gums adjacent to the tooth are tender and swollen. Another symptom is if the tooth appears discolored and has become extra sensitive to heat and cold. If these symptoms reveal inflamed and infected pulp inside the tooth then your dentist may recommend a root canal procedure.
What are the causes of dental pulp or nerve damage?
Dental caries (cavities), chipped teeth, cracked dental fillings, and injury to the teeth can cause damage to the dental pulp. If dental caries are not treated in time, the decay spreads inwards into the tooth pulp causing nerve damage. Cracked dental fillings allow saliva and harmful bacteria to reach the root canal and infect the pulp. Fractured teeth can expose the pulp. Injury to the teeth can cause pulp damage even if there are no external signs of damage to the inside of the teeth.
Why is root canal therapy necessary?
When the nerves inside the tooth pulp die, the tooth dentin and enamel can no longer receive organic nutrients and moisture. The inflamed tissue surrounding the tooth causes toothache and infection can damage the bones around the teeth. If the damaged pulp is not treated, bacterial infection and inflammation can loosen the tooth and it may have to be removed. Therefore, root canal therapy is necessary to preserve the tooth and also protect the jawbone.
What does the root canal procedure involve?
The procedure takes place in four steps. First, the dentist studies the x-ray of the infected tooth and then administers a local anesthetic. Then, the dentist removes the inflamed nerve tissue through an opening in the crown of the tooth. The root canal is cleaned properly so that no debris or bacteria is left behind. This will ensure that infection and tissue swelling does not happen again. In the second step of the root canal procedure, the dentist will seal off the cleaned root canal cavity. This is to prevent fluids and bacteria from entering the cavity. In the third step the root canal is filled with gutta-percha and adhesive cement mixture. In the fourth and final step, a crown is placed on the sealed tooth which allows the tooth to function normally.
Risks Associated with Root Canal Therapy
After completion of root canal therapy you might feel some discomfort for few days following the treatment. To alleviate the discomfort you can follow the dentist's recommendation on taking an over the counter pain medication. In more extreme cases the dentist may prescribe an antibiotic and prescription-strength pain reliever to help reduce any remaining infection.
Following root canal therapy you should never chew directly on the repaired tooth until its final restoration has occurred or your tooth may crack. Also, keep in mind that the longer you wait to complete the final restoration the more likely bacteria will re-infect the treated canal requiring the therapy to be performed all over again.
Root canal therapy, like every other treatment, is not free of unknowns and complications. There is a possibility that during the procedure a shaping file could break and get stuck in the root canal or that the root of the tooth fractures. In other cases a good seal may not be achieved due to the shape of the root. Lastly, it is possible to miss a hidden root or an extra canal that is in need of treatment. Of course these complications are the exceptions not the norm.
In the event that root canal therapy is unsuccessful, the dentist can discuss alternative options including repeating the treatment or extracting the infected tooth.
A dental crown is tooth-shaped cap that is permanently cemented over a tooth, in order to restore the tooth’s strength, shape and size, and improve its appearance. The crown will cover the visible portion of the tooth above and right at the gum line, once it is cemented into place.
Crowns are used to hold weak, broken or cracked teeth together to avoid further fracturing. Crowns are also used to support large fillings, attach a bridge, or cover discolored or deformed teeth. Crowns may also be placed over dental implants.
The dentist usually requires two dental visits to install a crown. First, the dentist needs to prepare the tooth or implant for the crown. The dentist will grind and shape the tooth so that the crown can be fitted over it. Then, the dentist makes an impression of tooth and surrounding gums, which is then sent to a dental laboratory so that the crown can be created. The dentist fits a temporary crown over the tooth, until the permanent crown is ready. During the second visit, dentist will remove the temporary crown and cement the finished permanent crown onto the tooth.
Crowns generally last about five to eight years, and with good oral hygiene most crowns last longer. Certain habits such as fingernail biting, chewing ice, and grinding teeth can do damage to the crown, and should be avoided.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Your third molars, commonly known as your wisdom teeth, are typically the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. If healthy and functional your wisdom teeth can be useful. However, there are also reasons behind why you may need to consider removing your wisdom teeth. In some cases your wisdom teeth are in fact healthy, but because of orthodontic treatment they need to be removed.
In other cases, your wisdom teeth can become impacted or only partially erupt through the gum in a misalignment. When impacted or partially impacted, your wisdom teeth can cause swelling, pain and even infection of the surrounding gum. They can also put pressure on the adjacent teeth, which can result in permanent damage to these otherwise healthy teeth and their surrounding bone. Sometimes, impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the formation of cysts, and in worse case scenarios even tumors, which could potentially destroy an entire section of your jaw.
Lastly a fully erupted wisdom tooth needs to be removed because they are very hard to clean and can become severely decayed. So for these reasons sometimes the smart move is to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Whether your dentist or a specialist is performing the extraction the procedure is the same. First, a local anesthetic is given to make the procedure more comfortable. In some cases your doctor may elect to administer nitrous oxide gas in addition to the anesthetic or use a general anesthetic to put you under entirely.
Once the area is numb, the extraction begins. A dental instrument called an elevator is used to wiggle the tooth in its socket. After the tooth is loosened it is removed using forceps or in some more complicated cases a surgical hand piece is also used to assist with the removal of the tooth.
Extraction's Possible Complications
Like most other procedures, tooth extraction is not free of possible complications. You should be aware that there is a slight chance of infection, tenderness, prolonged bleeding, dry socket and loosening of neighboring teeth or their fillings or crowns.
Another rare possibility is of an upper tooth getting displaced into the sinus. Lastly, jaw fracture and temporary or permanent numbness is also very rare possibilities.
When Should I Remove My Wisdom Tooth?
When should you have your wisdom teeth removed? There is no single right answer for everyone; however, if your dentist has advised you that your wisdom teeth look potentially problematic it's generally best to remove them sooner rather than later.
This advice is based on the fact that the younger you are, the faster you heal. The likeliness of lingering numbness, jaw fracture or other complications also increases with age. Lastly, the longer you leave a troublesome wisdom tooth in your mouth, the longer it has to cause further problems in the future.
Using the latest technology, laser dentistry involves specialized instruments that produce intense concentrated beams of light. This focused heat energy can aid in various types of dental procedures, often reducing bleeding, pain, and swelling.
How Laser Dentistry Works
A dental laser consists of an electricity source and mirrors that guide the beam of light, gas or solid matter through which the light passes, and a tube for directing the light. Different types of lasers exist, including soft tissue and hard tissue lasers. Their design and the wavelengths of light used depend upon the dental application. As well, the intensity and duration of heat, wavelength of the laser beam, and pulse time depend upon the procedure the dentist is performing.
Hard Tissue vs. Soft Tissue Lasers
If a doctor wants to precisely cut into bone or teeth, a hard tissue laser is the best choice. Hard tissue lasers work well to prep teeth, for removal of tooth structure, and to repair certain fillings. With soft tissue lasers, these devices can cut into soft tissue while also sealing off blood vessels and nerves.
Lasers can be used for:
- Activation of whitening gels
- Cavity detection
- Certain dental fillings
- Crown lengthening
- Reduction in tooth sensitivity
- Reduction of inflammation associated with TMD
- Removal of soft tissue
- Reshaping of the gums
Benefits of Laser Dentistry
Laser dentistry offers several significant advantages over traditional dentistry techniques, including
- Better accuracy and reduced recovery time
- Bonds fillings more securely then traditional techniques
- Can target any area in the mouth
- Cosmetic gum treatment can be performed without surgery
- Decreased need for anesthesia and numbing injections
- Less swelling and bleeding
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Reduced risk of infection
- Won’t stress or crack teeth like conventional drills can
With cosmetic dentistry, we focus on dental procedures that restore teeth to their natural beauty and enhance a smile’s esthetic appeal, while also maintaining optimum health and functionality. Cosmetic dentistry can improve your self-image because updating your smile often has a positive emotional and psychological impact. Research indicates that people with bright, white smiles are often seen as smarter, more attractive, and more successful.
If you feel embarrassed by how your teeth look, consider cosmetic dentistry. The modern dental procedures and techniques your dentist uses can remove imperfections and create a fabulous, new image. With a customized plan and advanced materials, your doctor will completely revitalize your oral health and appearance.
Cosmetic dentistry includes, but is not limited to:
- Porcelain veneers and inlays to repair broken/cracked, even mismatched teeth, or correct gaps between teeth
- Dental implants to replace missing teeth
- Teeth bleaching and whitening to remove stains
- Laser dentistry adjust “gummy” smiles, where a disproportionate amount of the gums show when you smile
- Tooth colored fillings for any new cavities and to replace unsightly silver amalgam fillings
- Use of non-metal crowns for old crowns that show black lines
After examining your teeth, your dentist can recommend personalized cosmetic treatments that will enhance your smile. Make an appointment for a consultation today so you can start enjoying the smile of your dreams.
Chips, stains, or gaps between teeth don’t have to mean an end to your vibrant smile. Porcelain veneers, thin shells of ceramic material placed over the natural tooth surface can remove these flaws and restore your smile’s appearance. Designed to mimic the natural translucency of enamel, porcelain veneers look and feel like your natural teeth.
Reasons to Choose Porcelain Veneers
If you want to straighten crooked teeth, repair cracks, or remove deep discolorations, porcelain veneers can completely transform your smile. Blending artistry and science, your dentist will select veneers that compliment your other teeth, facial features and personality. Many patients select porcelain veneers because they:
- Look completely natural
- Offer strength and durability
- Cost less than other options
- Renew your image and boost confidence
Revitalize Your Smile with Porcelain Veneers
Veneers are used to cover discolorations and imperfections. These restorations can also serve as an effective substitution for crowns on the front teeth because they can aesthetically change the size, color, and shape of your teeth. Often, your dentist can mount the veneers using little or no anesthesia. Resistant to staining, porcelain veneers last for years and are not affected by things like coffee, tea, and cigarettes.
To prepare your teeth, the dentist will first remove about half a millimeter of the natural enamel, which allows for the thickness of the veneer. Next, the doctor will take a mold of the teeth. These models are sent to a lab where a skilled technician will fabricate your custom veneers. Finally, your dentist will permanently bond the veneers to the natural teeth.
Common Questions about Veneers:
For anyone who wants to consider improving their images with porcelain veneers, we have provided frequently asked questions and answers to offer more information about these restorations. If you want to discuss your options, call your dentist and schedule a consultation appointment.
How do veneers work?
Crafted from solid dental porcelain, veneers cover your front teeth to remove flaws that hinder your beautiful smile. Traditional porcelain veneers are customized to fit the size, shape, and color of your teeth so that you achieve a gorgeous appearance and natural-looking restorations.
What do porcelain veneers cost?
We can’t give you an estimate on the price because each set of veneers is specifically designed for that individual patient. During your consultation appointment, the dentist will discuss your visions, evaluate your mouth, and create a complete plan for updating your smile. At that time, we will review costs and payment options.
Can I remove the veneers at a later date?
If you choose custom veneers, the restorations are permanent because your doctor will remove a thin layer of enamel to prepare your teeth for the porcelain veneers. Little or no-prep options like Lumineers do allow patients the flexibility of returning to their original smiles. However, Lumineers don’t work in all cases, so you will need a consultation and exam to determine the best option for your smile.
Why can’t I just whiten my teeth instead?
In some cases, professional teeth whitening can brighten your smile and revive your appearance. When you have gaps, permanent stains, or chips, bleaching your teeth won’t address the issues. Porcelain veneers literally cover the teeth and create a straight, attractive smile.
Does it take a long time to get veneers?
Most of the time, patients complete the whole process in four to six weeks. During this time, you will have an initial exam, take impressions for the veneers, and return for final placement.
A brilliant, attractive smile conveys confidence and vitality. As we age, our teeth naturally darken. One of the most popular ways to enhance your smile and improve your appearance is teeth whitening. Patients can visit the dentist at lunch and leave with a stunning, white smile.
With teeth whitening, we can bleach the enamel to remove discolorations and stains from teeth. Research and clinical studies show that under the supervision of your dentist, chair-side teeth whitening with carbamide peroxide and/or hydrogen peroxide is safe for both teeth and gums. You can choose from in-office whitening, like Zoom!, for an immediate transformation or take-home kits, which will gradually brighten your smile over a few weeks.
Why do Teeth Stain?
Tooth stains fall into two categories – extrinsic and intrinsic stains. The extrinsic, or external, stains only impact the surface of the teeth. Intrinsic stains are present inside the teeth and are harder to remove than extrinsic stains. Usually, extrinsic stains look yellow or brown, while internal stains are typically gray or blue in color.
You can develop teeth staining from a variety of causes including:
- Beverages such as coffee, teas, and colas
- Medication (antibiotic) staining
- Excessive fluoride
- Insufficient oral hygiene
- Nerve degeneration
Taking the First Step
During your initial visit, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums. At that time, the doctor will explain the recommendations and discuss your options. If you choose to begin immediately, you can relax and listen to music while we remove stains and transform your smile from blah to brilliant.
FAQs about Teeth Whitening:
What are my options for teeth whitening?
With teeth whitening, patients can choose either in-office or at-home whitening. For in-office whitening, such as Zoom!, we cover your lips and gums before applying a thin coating of gel on your teeth. Then the paste is activated with a special ultraviolet light. In one appointment, you can leave with a brilliant new smile.
For at-home whitening, we will take molds of your teeth and supply you with custom molds as well as professional grade whitening solution. Simply apply a thin layer of gel to the trays and wear them as directed each day. Most patients notice a difference in 10 to 14 days, and the full impact will appear at the end of the whitening time period.
Does teeth whitening work?
Professional teeth whitening can safely and effectively remove surface stains and renew your smile. Products like Zoom! Whitening can lighten your teeth 10 to 12 shades in no time. Good oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and avoidance of products that stain will keep your smile looking fantastic.
What is the difference between professional teeth whitening and the kits I can by from the drug store?
Drug store whitening kits don’t have the strength that professional grade whitening provides, so many times, patients won’t achieve the results they desire. As well, these whitening kits often irritate gums and soft tissue because they aren’t customized to fit your mouth.
What if teeth whitening won’t work?
In some cases, especially where deep intrinsic stains exist, teeth whitening may not be the best option. We will review your case and can recommend other alternatives, like porcelain veneers or cosmetic crowns, if whitening doesn’t fit your situation.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Many dentists consider teeth bleaching the safest cosmetic procedure available today. With careful supervision, you can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades and take years off your appearance.
What about side effects?
Some patients develop mild sensitivity after whitening. Time and toothpaste that alleviates this sensation will help minimize any discomfort you feel.
When you look and feel your best, people notice the difference. Modern cosmetic dentistry can totally transform your smile if you want to change your image. If you are considering more than one procedure, you may want a smile makeover, a comprehensive combination of cosmetic dental procedures intended to enhance your smile’s beauty and appearance. The makeover will focus on correcting various problems, including broken, chipped, crooked, missing, or discolored teeth.
The Esthetics of a Smile
With a smile makeover, your dentist can also fix uneven, unsightly gums. The makeover process can also dramatically change the length, width, color, and shape of your teeth to produce a uniform, vibrant appearance. Your dentist will talk with you about whether you want a more feminine look, a more attractive smile line, or whiter teeth. A smile makeover, however, is not just cosmetic in approach. During the evaluation, your dentist will also check for functional problems such as a bad bite or malocclusion.
Benefits of Making Over Your Smile
The advantages of having a smile makeover include:
- Consistency. Having multiple cosmetic procedures preformed by the same dentist, will help you avoid variances and differences that can occur when several dentists with different techniques and materials perform the same procedures over a longer period of time.
- Minimizing Office Visits. With a comprehensive smile makeover, the dentist can group the cosmetic procedures in a more efficient manner so as to save you time and minimize office visits.
- Saving Money. Because a smile makeover is intended provide a comprehensive solution, patients can avoid redundant dental procedures.
FAQs about Smile Makeovers
I want to change my smile. What do you suggest for a smile makeover?
No two people are exactly alike, and no two smiles are completely the same. To start the smile makeover process, the first thing you need is a consultation appointment. At this visit, the dentist will listen to your ideas, show examples of possible changes, examine your mouth, and craft a custom plan to update your smile.
Won’t a smile makeover cost a lot of money?
Every case is different. Until you meet with a dentist, it’s hard to estimate price. However, not taking care of your teeth can result in additional expenses to repair damage and improve your appearance.
How can I get straighter teeth without braces?
In some cases, porcelain veneers can cover front teeth and give your smile a more even look. To actually straighten teeth, many adult and teen patients choose clear braces. This system uses a series of clear, custom aligners to move teeth in to the correct position without the inconvenience of traditional metal braces.
What options are available for smile enhancement?
You deserve a smile that matches your style and personality. For a smile makeover tailored to fit your needs, your dentist may suggest porcelain veneers to close gaps, teeth whitening to remove stains, and porcelain crowns to replace old restorations. If you are missing teeth, dental implants can give you back a complete smile. Call your dentist and schedule an appointment for a cosmetic consultation.
Complete and Partial Dentures
Like many things in life, the importance of something is never truly appreciated until it is gone. If you've lost your teeth, whether due to injury, tooth decay or gum disease, you surely understand. The good news is that you have options to replace them. Dentures can help restore your way of life by helping you with day-to-day functions, such as eating and speaking, as well as help restore your confidence by improving your appearance and smile.
Making a denture is a process that usually takes about 6-12 weeks, however this can vary from one patient to another.
It also depends on the type of the denture and the technique the dentist or the laboratory technician uses to make the denture.
Denture Treatment Process
Complete dentures are made using your mouth as a model. First, the dentist will take an accurate impression of the upper and lower arches of your mouth. This impression is then sent to the dental laboratory.
At the next visit, the dentist will record the relationship of the arches that best resembles your original bite and helps you select the shape and color of the denture teeth and gums. Keep in mind the color of everyone's gums varies. To make a more natural denture the dentist will help you choose the shade that best matches your mouth.
In the subsequent visits the dentist will adjust your bite, test your speech and check the appearance and functionality of the denture teeth and gums. After a satisfactory fit and appearance is achieved, the denture is then sent back to the laboratory for fabrication.
While every effort is made to make a good and functional denture, please keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect denture. After delivery of the denture, it may require a few adjustment visits and some time for you and your new denture to adapt to each other. The most important point to remember is that adjusting to your new dentures is a process; it sometimes takes a little time to get used to.
A new denture can also alter your eating and speaking habits and it may require a bit of practicing before you get comfortable.
Finally, due to differences in the shapes of the jaws and the strong muscle movement of the tongue and cheek, a lower denture may be harder to keep in the mouth compared to an upper denture.
Different Denture Options
There are new advances in making dentures. One such advance is an implant-supported denture that stabilizes the denture. This kind of denture requires the placement of implants in your mouth before making the denture.
If you've suffered severe tooth decay, injury, or gum disease and need your remaining teeth replaced, an immediate denture can help relieve you of some concerns you may have after the extraction process is complete. An immediate denture, as its name implies, is a denture that is placed in your mouth immediately after your teeth are removed. It makes the transition to dentures less noticeable and also helps keep you performing everyday functions, like chewing and speaking.
Immediate Denture Treatment
Immediate dentures are made using your mouth as a model. First, the dentist will take an accurate impression of the upper and lower arches of your mouth and establish a bite that best resembles your original bite. The dentist will also help you select the shape and color of the denture teeth and gums. This impression is then sent to the dental laboratory.
During the next visit the dentist will adjust your bite, test your speech and check the appearance and functionality of the denture teeth and gums. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat this step to ensure that everything is just right.
After a satisfactory fit and appearance are achieved, the denture is then sent back to the laboratory for fabrication. At the subsequent visit, the remaining teeth will be removed and the denture will be delivered. Please note that the extractions may be performed at one visit or they may be removed in two or more visits depending on the number and condition of the teeth to be extracted, the shape of your jaws and your health condition. The dentist will best advise you of the preferred timing for your extractions.
Immediate Denture Complications
While every effort is made to make a good and functional denture, please keep in mind that there is no such a thing as a perfect denture. After delivery of the immediate denture, it may require a few adjustment visits and some time for you and your immediate denture to adapt to each other. This is due to the fact that when your gums heal following the extractions they will shrink for a period of about 6 months and the denture needs to be re-based or re-lined to fit properly.
The most important point to remember is that adjusting to your immediate dentures is a process; in some cases, it takes weeks or months to get used to your immediate denture.
An immediate denture can also alter your eating; you will not have the same chewing efficiency as you had with your natural teeth. An immediate denture will also alter your speaking and it may require a bit of practicing before you get comfortable. Keep in mind that due to differences in the shapes of the jaws and the strong muscle movements of the tongue and cheek, a lower denture may be harder to keep in the mouth compared to an upper denture.
Fortunately there are new alternatives now, such as implants, which can help restore functionality that is more like natural teeth. You can discuss this possibility with the dentist.
Partial dentures are replacement teeth for people who have lost one or more of their teeth. Partial dentures can be taken in and out of the mouth and consist of a denture base, which closely resembles the color of your gums and denture teeth, which are attached to a supporting framework. The partial denture then attaches to the existing teeth via a clasp or some other retentive device.
Partial dentures are made using a model of your mouth.
Making a partial denture requires about 6-8 weeks, however this can vary from one patient to another. It also could depend on the type of denture and the technique your dentist or the laboratory technician uses..
Partial Denture Treatment
The first step in making a partial denture is the preparation of the teeth. During this phase your dentist may prepare the teeth that the partial denture will use for support. Next, your dentist will take an accurate impression of the upper and lower arches of your mouth and records your bite. The impressions are then sent to the dental laboratory.
At the subsequent visits your dentist will evaluate your bite, test your speech and check the appearance and function of the partial denture teeth and gums.
After the final satisfactory fit and appearance are achieved, the denture is then sent back to the laboratory for final fabrication.
Partial Denture Complication
While every effort is made to make a good and functional partial denture, it may require a few adjustment visits and a little time for you and your partial denture to adapt to each other. The most important point to remember is that adjusting to your partial denture is a process; in some cases, it takes weeks to get used to a partial denture.
A new partial denture can also alter your eating and speaking habits and it may require a bit of practicing before you get comfortable.
Different Types of Partial Dentures
There are newly developed techniques in making partial dentures. One such advance is an implant-supporting partial denture that helps give additional support to the partial denture. While it offers additional support it also requires the placement of implants in your mouth before making the denture.
There is also a partial denture that uses a special material called Valplast which is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This kind of partial does not use metal as its base and has hooks that are made with a flexible plastic material.
Stayplate (Temporary Denture)
If you are scheduled to have a tooth pulled before getting your partial denture, then your dentist may advise you to get a temporary partial denture or a stayplate while your gums and their supporting bone are healing. A stayplate will replace the missing tooth or teeth and can help you with your chewing and speaking until a more permanent solution is achieved. A stayplate will also help maintain your appearance when in public and keep your existing teeth from shifting in your mouth and creating bigger problems.
Stayplates are made using your mouth as a model. First, your dentist will take an accurate impression of the upper and lower arches of your mouth and establish a bite that best resembles your original bite. Your dentist will also help you select the shape and color of the stayplate teeth and gums. This impression is then sent to the dental laboratory.
At the subsequent visit, the teeth will be removed and the stayplate will be delivered.
What You Should Know
Please keep in mind that there is no such a thing as a perfect stayplate. After delivery, it may require a few adjustment visits and some time for you and your stayplate to adapt to each other.
Stayplates can also alter your eating; you will not have the same chewing efficiency as you had with your natural teeth. Stayplate will also alter your speaking and it may require a bit of practicing before you get comfortable.
The most important point to remember is that adjusting to your stayplate is a process and stayplate is a temporary replacement until another form of treatment such as an implant, bridge or a partial denture can be made.
Dental Implants: Modern Replacements for Missing Teeth
An accident, injury, or disease can cause tooth loss. Having an incomplete smile may damage your self esteem and cause oral health problems. Without a replacement tooth, the remaining teeth shift and the bone can start to deteriorate. Dental implants can replace missing teeth and allow patients to lead the full, active lives they deserve.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root which acts as an anchor for replacement teeth. Shaped like a screw, it is surgically placed into the jawbone to secure a replacement tooth or bridge in place. Stable and permanent, implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. They are an ideal tooth replacement procedure because they look and feel like natural teeth. Studies show that dental implants have a 95 percent success rate in most cases.
Why Choose Implants
Implants are great for patients who are unable to wear dentures. Instead, the dentist will place the implant directly into the jawbone to support permanently cemented bridges. Implants can be made from several different types of metallic and bone-like ceramic materials that are compatible with body tissue. When surgically anchored into the jawbone, the implant fuses with living bone in a process known as "Osseo integration". After your mouth heals, usually in three to six months, your doctor will place a permanent crown over the post to complete your smile restoration.
FAQs about Dental Implants
Do I really need to replace one tooth?
A missing tooth leaves a gap in your smile, which can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. As well, even one lost tooth can damage your oral health by causing other oral health problems. Dental implants can replace one tooth or the whole mouth full, giving you back a solid, healthy smile.
Am I a candidate for implants?
For successful implant placement, you need to be in good overall health, have good dental health, and sufficient bone structure. Your dentist will perform a full evaluation to see if dental implants would fit your personal situation.
How do I care for my implants?
Treat your implants like you would your natural teeth. Brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, and schedule routine checkups with the dentist. Following these steps will make for successful implant therapy and a gorgeous smile.
What are implant-supported dentures?
If you are not a candidate for dental implants to replace all your teeth, your dentist may recommend implant-supported dentures, which will create a more secure situation with your dental appliance. With implant-supported dentures, several titanium posts are placed in your jaw bone so that the denture can snap on to the implants, reducing slippage and improving comfort.
Dental bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth in your mouth. Dental bridges are fixed, in that they are cemented on the supporting teeth, or in some cases fixed on the dental implant that has been placed next to the missing teeth.
Importance of Replacing the Missing Teeth
Replacing the missing teeth will restore your ability to properly chew and speak besides its cosmetic advantage; in addition the space caused by the missing teeth may allow the surrounding teeth to shift into that space. This shifting could cause a misalignment in your bite that can result in problems with your jaw joint. These shifted teeth are harder to clean, making them more susceptible to gum disease, decay or even additional tooth loss.
The Dental Bridge Treatment
It normally takes two or more visits for your dentist to complete your bridge. On your first visit the supporting teeth, which are typically the ones on either side of the missing tooth, are prepared. This is done to make room for the crowns that will slide over the supporting teeth. These crowns also serve as holders of the pontic, which is the missing tooth's replacement.
Next, an impression of the supporting teeth is made so a dental laboratory can custom fit the bridge. Finally a temporary dental bridge is inserted to protect the supporting teeth as well as the space between them.
On your second visit the permanent bridge is placed and adjusted to insure proper fit and function. If the fit of the bridge is satisfactory your dentist will proceed with permanently cementing the bridge into place.
Dental Bridge Post Treatment Expectations
After the successful completion of the bridge you may feel some discomfort, mild pain when biting or sensitivity to temperature changes for a few days. As advised by your dentist, you can take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as Advil that contains ibuprofen, to alleviate the discomfort. If these symptoms persist more than a few days, visit your dentist.
Cleaning Your Dental Bridge
The longevity of your dental bridge depends in large part on the quality of the material in the bridge, as well as your oral hygiene, diet and the health of the supporting teeth and gums. Please ask your dentist for proper brushing and flossing techniques.
Did you know that an estimated 40 million Americans avoid dental care because of fear and anxiety?
Without regular trips to the dentist, your smile's brilliance may diminish and your oral health can suffer. Sedation dentistry, a term that describes the methods used to manage patient pain and anxiety, allows dentist to keep help people relax while at the same time allowing patients to respond to physical stimulation and verbal command.
When to Consider Sedation Dentistry
You deserve a healthy, fabulous smile. Putting off routine checkups and minor repairs can result in the need for much more invasion therapy. If you have avoided treatment because you dislike dental visits, sedation dentistry can allow you to comfortably receive the care you need. Sedation dentistry is ideal for people who have:
A high level of fear or anxiety
Suffered past traumatic dental experiences
Difficulty in getting numb
An overactive gag reflex
Very sensitive teeth
Complex dental problems
The need to squeeze several procedures into a limited time period
A fear of needles and shots
A strong dislike of the noises, smells and taste associated with dental care
TMJ-related difficulties where it is uncomfortable to open their mouth for extended periods
Understanding Sedation Dentistry
The three common types of sedation are:
Inhalation sedation like as nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas or happy gas). Often, your dentist will also provide a local anesthetic with laughing gas to avoid any pain.
Oral sedation, which involves pills or liquid taken through the mouth. The medication allows patients to enter a state of total relaxation during treatment. Usually, patients also receive an injection of local anesthetic as well.
Intravenous (IV) sedation sedatives administered directly into the blood-stream through the vein for the deepest level of sedation without general anesthesia. We do not offer IV sedation.
If you choose oral sedation, a responsible companion must accompany you to and from the visit. Before any dental procedures commence, the sedating effects of the medicine will cause the patient to become drowsy and relaxed. Feel free to resume normal activities sometime in the next 12 to 24 hours, but someone should stay with you for the first few hours at home.
Is it really Sleep Dentistry?
Though sedation dentistry has also been referred to as sleep dentistry, this terminology is inaccurate. Patients will feel very drowsy during the procedure and will not remember most of their time in the dental chair. However, you are actually awake throughout the treatment process.
Sedation dentistry describes the methods used by dentists to manage patient pain and anxiety while at the same time allowing the patient to respond to physical stimulation and verbal command.
If you wake up as tired as when you went to bed, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Characterized by short lapses in breathing, sleep apnea affects an estimated 12 million Americans. Although sleep apnea can seem like just a mild annoyance, this condition has been linked with other health concerns high blood pressure, heart disease, memory problems, and daytime drowsiness.
Defining Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the patient experiences shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can occur several times during sleep, leading to health complications and lifestyle hindrances.
Because sleep apnea can impact other areas of your life, it’s important to take any symptoms seriously. If you suspect sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or physician about having a complete exam. Often, your doctor will recommend a sleep study to help confirm sleep apnea. Common symptoms of sleep apnea can include:
Abnormal sleep patterns
Choking during sleep
Difficulty with concentration
Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
Falling asleep at inappropriate times
Frequent pauses during sleep due to breaks in breathing
High blood pressure
Sudden awakenings to restart breathing
Waking up in a sweat
The four types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea - The most common form of this disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a patient's throat closes as the individual inhales during sleep and the patient can not suck air into their lungs. Since muscles relax during sleep, the soft tissue of the pharynx relaxes and expands, obstructing air flow in the upper respiratory tract. This obstruction reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and forces the patient to wake up and take a deep breath. Men from age 30 to 50 are the main group affected by OSA. Often, people will experience mild OSA at some point in time in their lives; however, chronic or severe OSA requires medical attention.
Central sleep apnea - Central sleep apnea, or Cheyne-Stokes respiration, is a relatively rare form of sleep apnea that occurs when the region of the brain responsible for controlling the breathing muscles temporarily fails. Central sleep apnea differs from OSA in that the patient’s pauses in breathing are due to a lack of effort to breathe.
Mixed apnea - Mixed apnea is a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea. Chronic OSA can sometimes cause central sleep apnea. Although the exact cause is still unknown, weight-related, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions can contribute to mixed sleep apnea.
Complex sleep apnea - Complex sleep apnea is a form of mixed sleep apnea. With this unusual condition, a patient still experiences sleep apnea even when the physical obstruction to breathing is removed.
Factors that Influence Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when soft tissue in the airway relaxes. Usually, OSA occurs because of changes in muscle tone, increase in the soft tissue due to obesity, and structure issues with the skull and face. Obese people are at a great risk for OSA because they carry more muscle and tissue mass. Over 50 percent of those who have Down’s syndrome suffer from OSA, brought on by poor muscle tone, narrow nasopharynx, and a large tongue. Nasal congestion and alcohol consumption can also contribute to OSA. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea in children. Obstructive sleep apnea can also occur as a part of the natural ageing process when the brain's capacity to transmit instructions telling the throat muscles to maintain rigidity decreases.
Central sleep apnea often accompanies a medical condition and is rarely found in healthy individuals. Since the brainstem controls breathing, any medical condition involving that part of the brain can cause central sleep apnea. Cardiovascular conditions, neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease, advanced arthritis, and encephalitis are some medical conditions that can trigger central sleep apnea.
The Importance of Treatment
Complications from sleep apnea can include inattentiveness at work, tiredness, risk of accidents, mood swings, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of congestive heart failure and stroke. It can lead to difficulty in the treatment processes for conditions such as arterial fibrillation. Children affected by sleep apnea can be hyperactive, high strung, aggressive, and prone to bed wetting. They may have also unusual sleeping positions. Overall, a person suffering from sleep apnea experiences deterioration in the quality of life.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
To look for sleep apnea, a dentist or physician can recommend diagnostic testing, particularly if the patient is suffering from conditions such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and epilepsy. Physical examination for adults includes measuring for a wide neck, looking for enlarged tonsils, and assessing upper body obesity. In evaluating children, doctors check for enlarged adenoids and determine if the child has attention deficit issues.
Doctors use the patient’s medical and sleep history in diagnosing sleep apnea. Symptoms such as drowsiness, headaches, heartburn, and patient medications can influence the diagnosis. A sleep study, where the patient is monitored in a sleep lab, can also help determine an individual has sleep apnea. When testing rules out sleep apnea, then the patient must be evaluated for other potential sleep disorders.
Treating Sleep Apnea
After a diagnosis of sleep apnea, your doctor will review treatment surgical and non-surgical options. Non-surgical treatments include medications, behavioral changes, dental appliances, and use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Medication - Nasal steroid sprays may effectively control sleep apnea caused by nasal airway obstruction. Hypothyroidism treatment helps manage sleep apnea caused by the thyroid condition.
Behavioral changes – In many cases, lifestyle and behavior changes are often the only treatment required to treat sleep apnea, particularly the milder cases. Exercising to reduce weight and avoiding sleep positions that lead to increased snoring have been shown as effective treatments.
Dental appliances - Mild to moderate sleep apnea can be controlled by using dental appliances that hold the palate up and keep the airway free. Any dental appliance should be custom fit by a dentist so that it works properly. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines use air pressure to ensure that the soft palate does not sag during sleep. The pressurized air is delivered to the patient through a face mask. As the person breathes, gentle air pressure keeps the air passage open and prevents sleep apnea.
Orthodontia, also known as orthodontics and orthopedics, was the first specialty created in the field of dentistry. An orthodontist, specialist in orthodontia, is limited to practice orthodontia only. Whereas general dentists can provide orthodontic treatment along with other treatments for teeth like fillings, cleanings, crowns, etc. Orthodontists are concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity and/or disproportionate jaw relationships. Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as "dentofacial orthopedics".
Orthodontia is the specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the treatment of improper bites and crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help fix the patient's teeth and set them in the right place.
For comprehensive orthodontic treatment, metal wires are inserted into orthodontic brackets (braces), which can be made from stainless steel or a more aesthetic ceramic material. The wires interact with the brackets to move teeth into the desired positions. Invisalign or other aligner trays consist of clear plastic trays that move teeth. Functional appliances are often used to redirect jaw growth.
After a course of active orthodontic treatment, patients will typically wear retainers (orthodontic devices), which help to maintain the teeth in their improved positions while surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are generally worn full-time for a period, anywhere from just a few days to a year, then part-time (typically, nightly during sleep).
Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn.
Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
What are the causes of TMD?
Symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck can also lead to TMD. Other causes include grinding or clenching your teeth, arthritis in the joint, and stress.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
TMD can cause severe pain and discomfort that would be temporary or last for a many years. More women have it then men do and it’s most common among people 20-40 years old.
Common symptoms of TMD include:
Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw area, neck and shoulders
Pain in or around your ear(s) when you chew or speak
Trouble opening your mouth wide
“Lock” Jaw in the open or closed position
Popping and Clicking of the jaw joint when opening and closing
Uncomfortable bite, as upper and lower arches are not fitting together properly
Oral Splint for TMD
Oral Splints or Mouth Guards are plastic mouth pieces that fit over your upper or lower teeth, causing the teeth not to touch. They lessen the effects of grinding and clenching. They also correct your bite by putting your teeth in a more correct position.