Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health and general wellbeing, and for identifying problems in the early stages. During a dental exam the dentist may: - Review your medical history. - Examine your teeth for cavities and other anomalies (i.e. crowding, bite problems, etc). - Examine your gums and other tooth supporting structures. - Examine other head and neck structures. - Look for early signs of oral cancer. - Create a treatment plan based on your needs and desires. - Recommend a referral to a specialist for further treatment.
The dental hygienist will assess the health of the supporting structures of the teeth (i.e. gums and bone) and determine how much tartar buildup is present on the teeth; the dental hygienist will use this information to tailor a personalized treatment plan schedule for cleaning and re-evaluating your teeth. Often the hygienist will recommend a cleaning every six months, but this could vary greatly. The dental hygienist may also explain how to brush and floss teeth and provide other information on how to maintain good oral hygiene at home. In some cases the dental hygienist may also recommend a refferal to the Periodontist ("gum specialist"), especially if there are signs of advanced gum disease or in cases where a specific tooth or area needs extra attention.
There are several reasons why a tooth may need a filling (i.e. cavities, wear, etc.). Some of the most common filling materials are Amalgam fillings (also called silver fillings) and Composite fillings (also known as white fillings). The decision as to which type of filling is to be used depends on the patient's preferences and also on the clinical situation.
If a tooth develops a large cavity, or if it becomes infected, it could need root canal treatment to save it. Root canal treatment involves the removal of the inflamed, dead or infected pulp tissue from the tooth; the inside of the tooth is then cleaned, disinfected and sealed with a rubber material to prevent further spread of infection to surrounding bone structure and to avoid formation of an abscess.
Following root canal treatment it is important to restore the upper portion of the tooth with a filling material and in most cases a crown in order to maintain the structural integrity of the tooth which has been further compromised by the root canal procedure.
A crown, also called a cap, can be placed on a tooth that has lost a considerable amount of its natural structure. For example a tooth that has a large filling or had root canal treatment could benefit from a crown. A crown covers most of the tooth to strengthen it against further fracture and decay and it is cemented permanently onto the tooth.
Bridges, Dentures or Implants are used to replace a tooth or teeth that are missing or have been lost. A bridge uses teeth immediately adjacent to the missing tooth as supporting pillars, and it is permanently cemented onto those teeth. A denture is a removable appliance that may have hooks that attach to several teeth to hold the denture in place. Implants on the other hand are placed precisely into the space where the tooth is missing without disturbing any other teeth.
Bonding and veneers are cosmetic procedures that can change the shape and color of teeth. This procedure may not be indicated for people that clench or grind their teeth. You should talk to your dentist to see if you are a good candidate for bonding or veneers.
Teeth whitening can help to brighten a smile. However, whitening results will depend on several factors such as the reason for teeth discoloration, type and location of existing restorations (i.e. fillings and crowns will not whiten), etc. You should talk to your dentist to see if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening.
Orthodontic treatment can involve the placement of appliances, such as "braces", to help align teeth that are crowded, crooked or protruding; it can also help to improve the bite and facilitate the cleaning of teeth. Sometimes surgery in conjunction with orthodontic treatment is necessary in cases of severe misalignment.
Below you can find information on common dental procedures and a variety of topics. You can also browse our patient education video library on common dental procedures and home care instruction.