Reasons for Oral Exams
Main Street Dental Clinics recommend that you see your dentist on a regular basis. Regular checkups ensure that problems can be caught early and treated conservatively, saving you time, money, and pain. If allowed to advance, these problems with your teeth or gums can spread beyond your mouth and affect your general health, causing problems in other areas of your body. Visiting your dentist regularly will help you maintain your overall well-being
At your first office visit, your dentist will start by reviewing your medical and dental history with you. At each checkup, be sure to let your dentist know if you have any change to your medications or health to ensure that you continue to receive dental care tailored to your unique needs. Do not be afraid to tell your dentist if you have experienced anxiety over dental visits in the past so that he or she can present you with different options for making you comfortable during exams and treatments.
Your dentist will obtain images of your teeth and jaws at your first appointment. Dental X-rays can help detect cavities, tooth eruption issues or bone loss in the jaws. Main Street Dental Clinics only takes the necessary films to diagnose your oral health issues.
During a Visual Exam the doctor is looking for:
- Cavities: Using a tool to gently touch all tooth surfaces, your dentist can detect soft spots that may indicate decay.
- Periodontal Disease: Your dentist will use an instrument to measure the spaces between your gums and teeth to determine if gum disease is present.
- Oral Cancer: Affecting the lips, throat, head, neck and soft tissues inside the mouth, oral cancer has a high cure rate if caught early. Your dentist will visually inspect these areas for unusual sores, lumps or rough patches and palpate them to determine if swelling or tenderness is present.
- Jaw and Bite Issues: A misaligned bite and teeth grinding can cause problems with your teeth and jaws, including pain in the jaw joints and TMJ disorder.
After the exam, the dentist will thoroughly discuss your recommended treatment and answer any questions you may have. You will be aware of all options and prices before any treatment is performed.
If your teeth are chipped, cracked, or damaged by tooth decay, they may need fillings. Your dentist may find cavities that you may not see in the mirror. Regular dental visits allow the dentist to find small problems before they become large ones, saving you time, money and pain.
Should your teeth ever need restorations, we use the most modern technology and skills to perform the best treatment possible. There are more options than ever for contouring a tooth back to its original form, appearance and function. We offer many types of metal and tooth colored restorations. Main Street Dental Clinics dentists will fully discuss all of the available options with you and help you choose the option that fits your preferences. Providing you with comfortable and non-invasive treatment is our number one priority.
Restorations can help to:
- Enhance your smile
- Fill in spaces between teeth
- Prevent future tooth loss
- Relieve pain within your mouth and jaw
- Repair damage caused by tooth decay
- Repair chipped and broken teeth
- Replace and update old dental treatments that have lost their function or attractiveness
- Restore regular eating and chewing capabilities.
What is a Crown?
A crown, sometimes called a “cap”, is a tooth–like covering placed over a carefully prepared existing tooth. Used to strengthen, restore or improve the appearance of your natural tooth, a crown is placed on an individual tooth much like a thimble over your finger. Crowns support the tooth when there is no longer sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling, and they may be used to protect the structure of a tooth that is fractured or broken.
Types of Crowns
Dental crowns fall into three categories: full metal, porcelain fused to metal and full porcelain. Your dentist will assess your dental health and discuss your options with you, but all three crown types have distinct advantages.
Precious metals have tremendous durability and are non-reactive. These characteristics make them a preferred material for dental crowns. Metal crowns offer outstanding longevity, but because they look nothing like natural tooth enamel, they are most often used for molars where they will not be as visible.
Metal and Porcelain Crowns
Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) conceals metallic surfaces under a ceramic layer that closely resembles natural tooth enamel.
Porcelain crowns have the most natural look and are generally indistinguishable from natural teeth. Due to advancement in ceramics they are every bit as strong as metal or PFM crowns.
What is a Bridge and Why are Crowns Involved?
A bridge is a custom device anchored to neighboring teeth that replaces one or more missing teeth. When a lost tooth is replaced with a bridge, the teeth on either side of the missing one must be carefully prepared to serve as anchors (abutments) to hold the prosthetic replacement teeth in place. The type of crown and bridge materials used depends on:
- Aesthetics – color match and appearance
- Form – the contour of the bridge must conform to the surrounding tissue in a natural healthy position
- Function – chewing and biting accuracy
Why is Crown and Bridge Treatment Necessary?
Losing a permanent tooth – whether it be due to dental decay, periodontal (gum) disease, injury or accident – can cause many serious problems for your neighboring teeth. Because the support and chewing forces are altered, the remaining teeth may begin to shift. The opposing tooth above or below the lost tooth can begin to move up or down and out of the socket, which can accelerate gum disease and further break down the bone structure. If the missing tooth is not replaced, more teeth may eventually be lost due to the improper forces exerted during chewing.
What are the Benefits of Crown and Bridge Treatment?
Crown and Bridge Treatment will restore lost teeth, support remaining teeth and help you maintain optimum dental health. We will evaluate your oral health and work to create the best treatment options for you.
Crown and Bridge Treatment:
- Restores your smile
- Matches the color and appearance of your natural teeth
- Maintains the natural bite
- Maintains the shape of your face
- Prevents unnatural stress on other teeth
- Keeps other teeth in their proper place
- Prevents shifting and tilting of adjacent teeth
- Restores your ability to properly chew and speak
- Discourages further dental decay and periodontal disease
What is Tooth Whitening?
Tooth whitening is a bleaching process that reverses discolorations of enamel (the outside layer of tooth structure) to create a whiter, brighter appearance. No natural tooth structure is lost, and no anesthetic is required.
How do I know if tooth whitening is for me?
We’re glad to help you determine if you’re a good candidate. First, for your safety, we need to check the strength and condition of your teeth through an exam and x-rays.
What tooth whitening options are available?
Depending upon your unique situation, we may offer one of 2 different types of tooth whitening systems: in-office (active) or at home use (passive) under our professional supervision. Sometimes we recommend a combination of both to give you the best results in the least amount of time. Regardless of which type of system is best for you, it’s important that you follow our professional recommendations. We want to be sure you receive the best and safest treatment available.
What happens during in-office tooth whitening?
Advancement in whitening products makes in-office tooth whitening faster and more effective than ever. Also called chairside bleaching, the procedure can be accomplished in one to three visits that take from 30 minutes to an hour.
What happens during at-home tooth whitening?
First you will be fitted for thin custom mouth trays for use at home. Then we’ll discuss with you the many products that offer varying concentrations of bleaching agents, which determines the wear time required for whitening results. Peroxide-containing whiteners come in a gel form that you apply to your custom-fitted mouth tray. During at-home treatment, you must return to our office to ensure the product is working and that your teeth and gums remain healthy.
Extractions are the removal of teeth from the mouth. At Main Street Dental Clinics, we remove teeth at our office in most cases. We will do everything possible to ensure that you have a pleasant experience.
Indications for Tooth Extraction:
- Decay that has destroyed too much of the healthy tooth structure that saving the tooth is no longer possible
- Gum disease that has destroyed enough bone that the tooth is loose and no longer supported in the jaw
- Fracture of a tooth from trauma
- Wisdom teeth that are impacted or do not have space to maintain properly
- Removal of teeth to make room for braces
This kind of extraction is performed for those whose teeth have already erupted and present with minimal complications. The tooth is able to be removed in a routine way.
This type of procedure is done for teeth that are more complicated to remove. Complications include unerupted teeth, teeth broken at the gum level, or teeth with curved roots. Bone will need to be removed next to the tooth to remove the tooth, and most often we will place a stitch to promote proper healing.
What Makes a Root Canal Necessary?
The following are the most common factors contributing to a need for root canal treatment:
- Infection caused by deep decay or a very large filling
- Severe gum disease
- Trauma, such as a physical blow to a tooth or a constant striking of a tooth in the opposite jaw
It used to be that a tooth with a disease or infected nerve had to be removed. In 95% of the cases today, however, this is no longer true. We believe in saving teeth instead of removing them. At Main Street Dental Clinics, we make every effort to help you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime!
Benefits of Dentures
Whether you are missing some or all of your natural teeth, you can derive many benefits from replacing them with full or partial dentures. Replacement teeth help fill out your smile by giving support to the cheeks and lips. Replacement teeth create a more youthful, vibrant appearance by holding up facial muscles and aiding in speaking, chewing, swallowing and smiling.
Partial dentures are attached to the teeth to fill in gaps where other teeth are missing. Partial dentures help maintain the appearance of a healthy smile while also keeping the remaining teeth in their proper alignment instead of shifting over time.
Complete dentures replace an entire arch. Following a few months of total tooth loss, conventional dentures are placed in the patient's mouth. This is done to allow the gums a chance to heal. Immediate dentures can be used immediately following extraction, but immediate dentures do not allow for the tissue and bone to settle, which will require adjustments over time. Immediate dentures will need to be relined in the future to regain a better fit.
The Facts About Dental Implants
Dental implants are the permanent way to replace missing teeth, with a look and feel that’s very close to your natural teeth. Implants are metal posts or frames surgically placed into the bone beneath your gums. The implants fuse with the jawbone providing stable support to artificial teeth, preventing individual teeth, bridges or dentures from shifting in your mouth. They are a high-tech way to replace missing teeth, and offer more stability than traditional bridgework since they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support.
Implant Supported Teeth:
- Allow you to speak, smile and eat with confidence
- Are comfortable and stay in place
- Function, look and feel like natural teeth
- Do not need adjacent teeth for support
What Happens During Treatment?
Implant treatment is usually performed by an oral surgeon or periodontist. To devise the best treatment plan for you, we first complete a medical and dental history and a thorough oral examination with x-rays.
A specialist surgically places the implant in the jaw with the top of the implant just above the top of the bone. Three to six months is allowed for the bone tissue to grow around the implant and hold them securely in place. At this time, you may be fitted with temporary dentures or natural looking teeth to help you function as normally as possible. You will need to follow important dietary and oral hygiene instructions.
Once the jawbone has firmly healed around the implant, a small post is attached to each implant. The post protrudes through the gum line and serves as an anchor to the replacement tooth. After your gums have fully healed, the replacement teeth or dentures are securely attached to the posts.
What are the Benefits to Dental Implants?
Because dental implants are designed to fit the structure of your natural teeth, they provide a highly stable support to:
- Replace one or more teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
- Support a bridge and eliminate the need for a removable partial denture.
- Provide support for a denture, making it more secure and comfortable
Other benefits include:
- Increased self-confidence. Because dental implants function like natural teeth, your confidence will be renewed.
- Improved biting pressure. Healthy teeth are able to absorb over 500 pounds of biting pressure per square inch. Dental implants can often restore the amount of pressure that can be withstood compared to the same level of healthy natural teeth.
- Comfortable and tooth-saving. Because your replacement teeth are securely anchored to your jawbone, they can’t slip or slide like unsecured dentures can. Dental implants don’t sacrifice the quality of your adjacent teeth, so more of your own teeth are left untouched.
- Longevity and reliability. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. Because implants integrate into the structure of your jawbone, they can help prevent bone loss and gum recession. With proper oral care and regular dental visits, implants can last a lifetime.
Teeth Cleaning/Gum Disease
The Basics of Gum Disease
Gum disease is an infection of the periodontal tissues that provide support for the teeth. These tissues include the gums, periodontal ligaments and the jawbone. Also called periodontal disease, this condition begins with bacteria-ridden plaque irritating the gum tissues. If this plaque is not removed with thorough brushing and flossing, it will turn into a hard substance called tartar. If tartar is allowed to build up around the gumline, it will break the healthy attachment between the gums and the teeth, allowing bacteria and plaque to collect under the gums and along the tooth roots. These openings at the gumline are called periodontal pockets.
The Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a progressive condition with three stages:
- Gingivitis: Plaque contains numerous strains of bacteria, many of which can irritate the gums and cause them to swell and bleed. This is the first stage of gum disease and is completely reversible.
- Periodontitis: This stage of gum disease occurs when tartar along the gum line breaks the attachment of the gums to the teeth, causing bone loss and periodontal pockets. These openings between the gums and teeth trap food particles and bacteria that damage the structures holding the teeth in place. A therapeutic (deep) cleaning by your hygienist or dentist, which involves removing bacteria from the periodontal and root surfaces so that the gums can reattach to them, can help prevent more damage.
- Advanced Periodontitis: In this third stage of periodontal disease, the gums, periodontal ligaments and bone sustain so much damage that the teeth may begin to loosen.
The mouth is crucial to the overall health of your body. The oral bacteria that run rampant in gum disease can also enter the body and affect your overall health. Oral bacteria enter the bloodstream through damaged gum tissues, and researchers have found traces of these bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and in the arteries of heart disease patients.
Professional Teeth Cleaning to Prevent Periodontal Disease
Most commonly referred to as “gum disease,” periodontal disease begins with plaque, the sticky biofilm that continually forms in your mouth. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily can help you remove plaque before it causes any problems. If plaque is not removed within about 48 hours after it forms, it begins to calcify into tartar, a hard substance that cannot be removed with brushing or flossing. However, your dental hygienist can remove these stubborn deposits with a special instrument.
Non-Surgical Treatment of Gum Disease
The effects of gingivitis can be reversed with good brushing and flossing habits and a professional teeth cleaning performed by your dental hygienist or dentist. In the more advanced stages of periodontal disease, your dental professional will likely perform a scaling and root planing procedure, which consists of removing plaque and tartar below the gumline. Also called a deep cleaning, this procedure involves removing the bacterial toxins on the surfaces of the tooth roots to help the gums reattach to the teeth and eliminate periodontal pockets.