GENERAL DENTAL PROCEDURES
How it’s done
You can expect your dental cleaning to last between 45 minutes to an hour. Typically, a trained hygienist will do the cleaning, and a dentist may come in for an exam at the end. Most people find that dental cleanings are painless, and do not cause any discomfort.
There are two important steps to a dental cleaning. The first step is scaling the teeth, whereby the hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces. This can be performed by hand or with electric scalers depending on the hygienists preference.Typically, the hygienist will also clean the pockets of the gums to remove any plaque buildup there.
The second step is polishing to remove any final plaque and buff the teeth. Polishers generally have several different sized heads to clean hard to reach places
Dental Exams and X-Rays
Routine dental exams are important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Additionally, they can help to avoid the financial costs associated with large treatment plans later on. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends twice yearly checkups for people of all ages. At this frequency, most problems can be caught while they remain in an early stage.
How it’s done
The dentist first examines your mouth visually, using dental equipment such as mouth mirrors, assorted dental tools, and high-intensity lights. Also review other important items such as:
- Medical history: The dentist will assess how any new medical conditions or illnesses may affect your dental health.
- Examination of tooth decay: Your mouth will be checked for cracked or decayed teeth.
- Oral cancer screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: Your gums and bone around the teeth will be checked for any evidence of periodontal disease.
- Examination of existing restorations: Current fillings, crowns, and other restorations are checked for good contact.
Additionally, your dentist will take diagnostic x-rays to reveal any other hidden problems, especially in the areas below the gums. Bitewing x-rays are typically taken every 12 months and a panoramic x-ray, which revolves around the head, is taken every 3-5 years.
When treating a cavity, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and fill it with another substance. This procedure is called a filling. There are multiple options for the material to be used in the filling, the most common are composite fillings and amalgam fillings.
A composite filling is also known as a tooth colored filling, since the material used in the filling can be closely matched to the color of your teeth. Composite fillings provide good durability for small to medium cavities, and the procedure typically involves removing less of a tooth than you would during an amalgam filling. They are also particularly well suited for treating front or highly visible teeth because of their natural look.
When can a composite filling be used for?
- Decayed tooth (i.e. cavity)
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Decreasing the gap between teeth
How it’s done
After the dentist numbs the area where the filling is to be placed, he will remove any decayed portions. A substance is then applied to help open up the pores of your teeth for a stronger bond, hardened, and cured with a special light. Once this is complete, the filling is applied in thin layers to slowly form the complete filling. After the composite has hardened, the filling will be smoothened and polished to be comfortable and fit your bite.
Endodontics/Root Canal Therapy
Endodontics is one of the dental specialties dealing with tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the root of a tooth. It involves many procedures such as root canal therapy, treating cracked teeth and dental truama. The signs of root canal problems are well familiar: severe pain, swelling, sensitivity to hot or cold water or a darkening tooth. In the past, root canal therapy was unpleasant, but thanks to modern dentistry, you don’t have to fear root canals anymore. You will be surprised how comfortable modern root canal therapy can be.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth willultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth. Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
• An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
• Sensitivity to hot and cold
• Severe toothache pain
• Sometimes no symptoms are present
• Swelling and/or tenderness
Reasons for root canal therapy:
• Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
• Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
• Injury or trauma to the tooth
What does root canal therapy involve?
A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist). While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments. Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.
At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.
After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.
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.