Cleaning and Check Ups
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit.
At regular check-up exams, your dentist will include the following:
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins
(poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
Dental caries is the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities. It is caused by specific types of bacteria. They produce acid that destroys the tooth's enamel and the layer under it, the dentin.
Many different types of bacteria normally live in the human mouth. They build up on the teeth in a sticky film called plaque. This plaque also contains saliva, bits of food and other natural substances. It forms most easily in certain places. These include:
- Cracks, pits or grooves in the back teeth
- Between teeth
- Around dental fillings or bridgework
- Near the gum line
The bacteria turn sugar and carbohydrates (starches) in the foods we eat into acids. The acids dissolve minerals in the hard enamel that covers the tooth's crown (the part you can see). The enamel erodes or develops pits. They are too small to see at first. But they get larger over time.
Acid also can seep through pores in the enamel. This is how decay begins in the softer dentin layer, the main body of the tooth. As the dentin and enamel break down, a cavity is created.
If the decay is not removed, bacteria will continue to grow and produce acid that eventually will get into the tooth's inner layer. This contains the soft pulp and sensitive nerve fibers.
Tooth roots exposed by receding gums also can develop decay. The root's outer layer, cementum, is not as thick as enamel. Acids from plaque bacteria can dissolve it rapidly.
A dentist will look for caries at each office visit. The dentist will look at the teeth and may probe them with a tool called an explorer to look for pits or areas of damage. The problem with these methods is that they often do not catch cavities when they are just forming.
Occasionally, if too much force is used, an explorer can puncture the enamel. This could allow the cavity-causing bacteria to spread to healthy teeth.
Your dentist will take X-rays of your teeth on a set schedule, and also if a problem is suspected. They can show newly forming decay, particularly between teeth. They also show the more advanced decay, including whether decay has reached the pulp and whether the tooth requires a root canal.
Fillings are used to repair teeth affected by decay, cracks, fractures or trauma. Your dentist can replace your old fillings or apply new white fillings to repair damaged teeth.
Most people have fillings of one sort or another in their mouths and the fillings of today can be natural looking as well as do the job they’re meant to do.
Many people don’t want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.
Here at Smile Arts Dental Care, all new fillings are 100% SAFE COMPOSITE RESINS WHICH ARE AMALGAM AND MERCURY FREE. Any mercury amalgam fillings you have can be replaced with 100% safe white fillings. These can be matched to almost any color, so no one need ever know you have a filling in your teeth.
What Are Composite Fillings?
Composite fillings are tooth colored and are made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic particles added to a resin base. After the tooth is prepared, the filling is bonded onto the area and a light shone onto it to help the filling set. The dentist will choose a shade to match your own teeth, although over time staining can happen.
What Are Amalgam Fillings?
Amalgam fillings are silver colored. They are made by combining mercury and a silver alloy (50% mercury, 35% silver, 15% tin, copper and other metals).
We do not use amalgam fillings in our dental practice and strongly recommend removal of these fillings.
After a filling procedure, there are a variety of side effects that can occur after the anesthesia wears off. The tooth may be sensitive to pressure, cold air or liquids or sweet foods. Some people many experience numbness, tingling, and some minor pain around the injection site. These side effects often subside within a few hours of the procedure.
Sensitivity should decrease in one to two weeks. Until then, try to avoid anything that causes it. If your tooth is extremely sensitive or your sensitivity does not decrease after two weeks, contact our office for an appointment.
The most common reason for pain right after a filling is that the filling is too high; your dentist can adjust the filling by checking the occlusion (bite) of your teeth and removing sufficient of the excess filling material to decrease the pain.
Another less common type of discomfort after a filling is a very sharp shock that appears only when your teeth touch. This is called galvanic shock and happens when two metals (one in the newly filled tooth and one in the occluding tooth) touch, producing an electric current in your mouth. This would happen, for example, if you had a new amalgam filling in a bottom tooth and had a gold crown in the tooth above it.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.
Reasons for sealants:
- Children and teenagers as soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.
- Adults Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions.
- Baby teeth occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone.
What do sealants involve?
Sealants are easily applied by your dentist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth.
The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth.
The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light.
Proper home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants.
A denture is a removable dental appliance replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissue. They are made to closely resemble your natural teeth and may even enhance your smile.
Here are two types of dentures – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
A Partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from shifting.
A Complete denture may be either conventional or immediate. A conventional type is made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has healed, usually taking 4 to 6 weeks. During this time the patient will go without teeth. Immediate dentures are made in advance and immediately placed after the teeth are removed, thus preventing the patient from having to be without teeth during the healing process. Once the tissues shrink and heal, adjustments will have to be made.
Dentures are very durable appliances and will last many years, but may have to be remade, repaired, or readjusted due to normal wear.
Reasons for dentures:
- Complete Denture – Loss of all teeth in an arch.
- Partial Denture – Loss of several teeth in an arch.
- Enhancing smile and facial tissues.
- Improving chewing, speech, and digestion.
What does dentures involve?
The process of getting dentures requires several appointments, usually over several weeks. Highly accurate impressions (moulds) and measurements are taken and used to create your custom denture. At try-in appointment will be necessary to ensure proper shape, color, and fit.
At the final appointment, your dentist will precisely adjust and place the completed denture, ensuring a natural and comfortable fit.
It is normal to experience increased saliva flow, some soreness, and possible speech and chewing difficulty, however this will subside as your muscles and tissues get used to the new dentures.
You will be given care instructions for your new dentures. Proper cleaning of your new dental appliance, good oral hygiene, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new dentures.
A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance and is an excellent way to replace missing teeth.
There are several types of bridges. You and your dentist will discuss the best options for your particular case. The porcelain bridge is the most popular type and is made of either porcelain fused to metal or porcelain infused zirconia. Porcelain fixed bridges are the most popular as they resemble your natural teeth.
Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years, however they may need replacement or need to be re-cemented due to normal wear.
Reasons for a fixed bridge:
- Fill space of missing teeth.
- Maintain facial shape.
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
- Restore chewing and speaking ability.
- Restore your smile.
- Upgrade from a removable partial denture to a permanent dental appliance.
What does a fixed bridge involve?
Getting a bridge usually requires two or more visits. While the teeth are numb, the two anchoring teeth are prepared by removing a portion of enamel to allow for a crown. Next, a highly accurate impression (mould) is made which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the bridge will be fabricated. In addition, a temporary bridge will be made and worn for 2 weeks until your next appointment.
At the second visit, your permanent bridge will be carefully checked, adjusted, and cemented to achieve a proper fit. Occasionally your dentist may only temporarily cement the bridge, allowing your teeth and tissue time to get used to the new bridge. The new bridge will be permanently cemented at a later time.
You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of the procedure. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new permanent bridge.
Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and also provide a fixed solution to having removable partial or complete dentures. Implants provide excellent support and stability for these dental appliances.
Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile!
Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.
Reasons for dental implants:
- Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
- Resolve joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into missing tooth space.
- Restore patient’s confident smile.
- Restore chewing, speech, and digestion.
- Restore or enhance facial tissues.
- Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable.
What does dental implants involve?
The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months.
- X-rays and impressions (moulds) are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself into the bone for up to 3-4 months. Depending on the type of implant, a second surgery may be required to expose the post that will hold the artificial tooth in place. With other implants, the post and anchor are already attached and placed at the same time.
- After a few weeks of healing the artificial teeth are made and securely attached to the implant providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient. After a healing period, the artificial teeth are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient.
You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed. Good oral hygiene, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new implant.
A crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.
Although there are several types of crowns, porcelain (tooth colored crown) are the most popular, because they resemble your natural teeth. They are highly durable and will last many years, but like most dental restorations, they may eventually need to be replaced. Porcelain crowns are made to match the shape, size, and color or your teeth giving you a natural, long-lasting beautiful smile.
Reasons for crowns:
- Broken or fractured teeth.
- Cosmetic enhancement.
- Decayed teeth.
- Fractured fillings.
- Large fillings.
- Tooth has a root canal.
What does a crown involve?
A crown procedure usually requires two appointments.
Your first appointment will include taking highly accurate molds (or impressions) that will be used to create your custom crown. A mould will also be used to create a temporary crown which will stay on your tooth for approximately two weeks until your new crown is fabricated by a dental laboratory.
While the tooth is numb, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the surface to properly fit the crown. Once these details are accomplished, your temporary crown will be placed with temporary cement and your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.
At your second appointment, your temporary crown will be removed, the tooth will be cleaned, and your new crown will be carefully placed to ensure the spacing and bite are accurate.
You will be given care instructions and encouraged to have regular dental visits to check your new crown.
Types of Dental Crowns:
There are four different types of dental crowns.
Ceramic — These are used for restoring front teeth, and are popular in this area for their ability to blend with your natural tooth color. The crown is made of a porcelain-based material.
Porcelain-fused to metal – This crown provides a stronger bond than regular porcelain because it is connected to a metal structure. It's also extremely durable.
Gold alloys – This crown is a mix of gold, copper and other metals. In addition to providing a strong bond to the tooth, it doesn't fracture, nor does it wear away the tooth itself.
Base metal alloys – This crown is made up of non-noble metals that are highly resistant to corrosion and make for a very strong crown. It also requires the least amount of healthy tooth to be removed prior to fitting.
The need for a tooth extraction can come unexpectedly for some patients resulting in the need for last minute appointments and after-hours care.
Smile Arts Dental Care offers an emergency after-hours service for patients requiring immediate tooth removals. At other times, the need for an extraction will be detected during your general checkup and taken care of immediately.
Even the thought of having your tooth out can cause great distress to many people but please don’t be alarmed, we only extract your tooth if necessary and with your approval.
Why a tooth may require removal:
Many factors can influence the need to extract a tooth or several teeth; here are the main reasons.
- Tooth Decay-Bacteria, sugary food and drinks as well as poor dental hygiene can result in advanced tooth decay. This happens when the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth have been infected.
- Orthodontics (Braces)-During teeth straightening treatments teeth can erupt unexpectedly. Occasionally this requires an extraction to allow your other teeth to align correctly.
- Periodontal disease-Gum disease that has advanced in to periodontal disease results in infection under the gums. Over time the disease worsens and causes the bone anchoring the tooth to the jaw to dissolve and teeth to loosen.
- Impacted Wisdom Teeth-Sometimes wisdom teeth just don’t fit in our mouths and become stuck, causing infection and pain.
- Medical Conditions & Treatments
- Radiation to the upper body can cause infection which may result in the need for an extraction of teeth to avoid further complications.
- Chemotherapy increases the risk of oral infection as the immune system weakens during treatment.
- Medications prescribed after organ transplant increase the likelihood of tooth infection. Teeth may need to be extracted prior to the organ transplant.
Brush & Floss
Brushing and Flossing are of paramount importance to oral hygiene. Though bi-annual professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar and debris, excellent homecare methods are equally valuable. Proper brushing can enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle and prevent serious diseases.
Reasons why proper brushing and flossing are essential:
- Prevention of tooth decay-Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures. Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.
- Prevention of periodontal disease-Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone recession.Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body. Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.
- Prevention of halitosis-Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
- Prevention of staining or the yellowing of teeth-Stains can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.
The Proper Way to Brush:
The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; ideally in the morning and before bed. The perfect toothbrush is small with soft, rounded-end bristles and no more than three months old. The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of the mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to the gum tissue.
Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:
- Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.
- Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth.
- Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and tooth enamel.
- Brush every surface of every tooth, cheek-side, tongue-side, and chewing surfaces. Place special emphasis on the surfaces of the back teeth.
- Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.
- Brush the tongue to remove fungi, food and debris.
The Proper Way to Floss:
Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from the interdental regions (between the teeth). Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease and limiting the depth of the gum pockets. The interdental regions are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis. The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use.
Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:
- Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.
- Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
- Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.
- Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
- Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.
- Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.