General Dentistry

TEETH FOR LIFE

Practicing good oral hygiene means maintaining your smile by visiting the dentist regularly and taking care of your teeth and gums between checkups. Our practice wants to make sure that you get the most out of your office visits, and that your teeth stay healthy for life! We’ll work with you to provide complete dental care, and show you how to maintain your smile at home with the right dental products for you and your family.

DENTAL CLEANINGS AND REGULAR CHECKUPS

Regular dental checkups are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During your regular checkup, your hygienist will:

  • Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Provide a thorough teeth cleaning, rinse, and polish

Visiting the dentist every six months gives you the chance to talk with your doctor and receive answers for any questions you may have about your oral health. Checkups are also a great way for you to find out about new treatments that may benefit your smile.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOTHPASTE AND TOOTHBRUSH

From toothpaste and mouthwash to toothbrushes and dental floss, it’s important to choose the right products for your smile. Keep in mind that when you’re looking for a new toothpaste or toothbrush, be sure to choose one that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Your dentist can also help by recommending certain dental products for use at home.

LEARN MORE

Did you know that at birth, people already have 20 primary (baby) teeth that begin erupting after six months, and that by age 21, there are no more primary teeth, and all 32 permanent teeth have erupted?

Getting to know your teeth can be fun and educational!

ANATOMY OF A TOOTH

anatomy of a tooth

TOOTH ERUPTION CHART

tooth eruption graphic

PREVENTIVE CARE

Preventive dental care is important throughout your life, no matter your age. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with your dentist, you can help keep your smile bright and healthy for many years to come. Here are a few simple ways that you can prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Also be sure to brush the top surface of your tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles, and help keep your breath fresh!
  • Clean between your teeth by flossing at least once a day. You can also use a mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

    Printable instructions >

  • Eat a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your smile healthy.
  • Remember to schedule regular checkups with your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, protective plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
  • If you play sports, be sure to ask your dentist about special mouthguards designed to protect your smile.

If it’s been six months since your last dental checkup, then it’s time to contact our practice and schedule your next appointment!

ORAL CANCER SCREENING

Our office is not only dedicated to your smile, we’re also dedicated to your overall wellness. We take a holistic approach to your dental care, which includes an oral cancer screening as a part of your regular exam. Like many kinds of cancer, oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

We have the skills and tools to ensure that early signs and symptoms of oral cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. While these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, it is very important to visit our office to rule out the possibility of oral cancer. The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Red or white spots or sores anywhere in the oral cavity
  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
  • A lump, thickening, or rough spot
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue

Our team is trained in a simple, quick screening that involves an examination of your oral cavity as a whole, and not just your teeth, to detect cancerous and precancerous conditions. Besides a visual examination of your mouth, we will also feel the tissue of your mouth and throat to detect any abnormalities. If we find an area of concern, we may perform a simple test, such as a brush test, which collects cells from a suspicious lesion in the mouth to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. If this test comes back atypical or positive, we may recommend a biopsy.

Aside from receiving an oral cancer screening during your checkup at our office, there are many things you can do to help prevent oral cancer.

  • The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid all tobacco products and only drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun and always wear UV-A/B-blocking, sun-protective lotions on your skin as well as your lips.
  • During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Early detection of oral cancer can improve the chance of successful treatment.

DIGITAL X-RAYS

Digital Xrays

Using the most advanced dental technology possible is just as important as staying up-to-date on the latest treatment techniques. Because our practice is dedicated to providing you with the safest and most convenient treatment options available, we utilize advanced digital X-ray technology in our office.

Digital X-rays provide several advanced imaging options designed to save time, provide clearer dental photos, and expose patients to less radiation than traditional X-ray technology.

Our practice is focused on making your dental experience as comfortable as possible. At your next appointment, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

GUM DISEASE

periodontitis

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular checkup, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between your teeth and gums.

WHAT CAUSES GUM DISEASE?

Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis — This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
  • Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, and the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Gums infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or be removed by a dentist.

CERTAIN FACTORS CAN INCREASE A PATIENT’S RISK OF DEVELOPING PERIODONTAL DISEASE, INCLUDING:

  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Crooked teeth
  • Old fillings
  • Pregnancy

WHILE IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND NOT KNOW IT, SOME SYMPTOMS CAN INCLUDE:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

TREATING GUM DISEASE

Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Typical treatments include:

  • Non-surgical treatments such as at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planing (deep cleaning)
  • Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
  • Dental implants

PREVENTING GUM DISEASE

Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. You don’t have to lose teeth to periodontal disease, and by practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of ever getting gum disease. Remember to brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.

 

DENTAL HEALTH AND ROOT CANALS

In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you would probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called root canal treatment, your tooth can be saved. Root canals are a relatively simple procedure involving one to three office visits. Best of all, having a root canal when necessary can save your tooth and your smile!

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A ROOT CANAL?

A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory – to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.

When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your jawbones, but it is detrimental to your overall health. Without the proper treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT A ROOT CANAL IS NEEDED?

Teeth that require root canal therapy are not always painful. However, signs you may need a root canal include severe toothache, pain upon chewing or application of pressure, prolonged sensitivity or pain in response to hot and cold temperatures, a dark discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A ROOT CANAL?

Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems with the nerves of the teeth) removes the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If your tooth had extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breakage. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.

WISDOM TEETH

wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. The most common type of impacted wisdom tooth is “mesial”, meaning that the tooth is angled forward toward the front of your mouth.

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Each patient’s situation is unique. Your dentist will usually take a panoramic X-ray to determine whether your wisdom teeth will need to be removed. If your dentist recommends removal of your wisdom teeth, it is best to have them removed sooner rather than later.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth’s roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier, as well as making the recovery time much shorter.

To remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Your dentist can use additional medication to safely sedate you during the extraction if you are feeling nervous about the procedure. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, your dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. To minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone.

Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Healing time varies depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction. Your dentist will let you know what to expect and will provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.

SEDATION DENTISTRY

Imagine undergoing a complex dental treatment like a root canal, extraction, or oral surgery. When your treatment is complete, you have no recollection of the time it took, the pain, the noise, or the discomfort you were expecting. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:

  • A fear or anxiety of being at the dentist
  • A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
  • A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics

WHAT IS SEDATION DENTISTRY?

Sedation dentistry allows your doctor to provide a variety of dental treatments safely and comfortably for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. There are several benefits to sedation dentistry, including:

  • No memory of undergoing the procedure
  • No sense of time while under sedation
  • No sense of smell or sound
  • No fear or anxiety during treatment

Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will tell you it is a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.

I AM NERVOUS ABOUT BEING UNCONSCIOUS. WHAT LEVELS OF SEDATION ARE AVAILABLE TO ME?

There is no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. We are licensed by the American Dental Association, and you will find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.

Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are three sedative states at which your dentist can administer your treatment: mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation.

  • Mild Sedation — Anxiolysis is the lightest form of sedation dentistry and is often used for patients with mild anxiety, longer procedures, or more complex situations. Mild sedation is usually administered orally. You remain awake or very sleepy throughout the entire procedure and are able to breathe on your own, but you will feel a great sense of relaxation. Patients typically recover from anxiolysis sedation within a few hours after the procedure is complete. Nitrous oxide inhalation (laughing gas) is another form of mild to moderate sedation that results in relaxation during treatment.
  • Moderate Sedation — Used for patients with moderate dental anxiety and for patients who need longer or more complex procedures, conscious sedation often refers to the use of light IV sedation. With conscious sedation, you will remain awake throughout your procedure, but will be in a deep state of relaxation. It is recommended that patients who receive conscious sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off and driving may be unsafe.
  • Deep Sedation — Patients receiving deep sedation go between consciousness and unconsciousness during their dental procedure. Patients often have no recollection of the treatment and are unable to respond to commands even if they are awake at times during the procedure. It is recommended that patients who receive deep sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off and driving may be unsafe.

HOW ARE SEDATIVES ADMINISTERED?

  • Inhalation — Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Recovery is quick so you can resume your normal activities immediately.
  • Oral — An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill which, taken about an hour before your appointment, will have you fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office.

Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation, learn more about sedation dentistry, and find out which sedation dentistry method may be right for you.

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DISORDER (TMD)

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

SYMPTOMS OF TMD INCLUDE:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. Your dentist can help indicate the presence of TMD and create an effective treatment just for you.

There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring:

  • Relax your face — remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared

IV SEDATION

We recognize that some of our patients may feel anxious or apprehensive about receiving dental care. Our doctors and staff work hard to make sure that you have a comfortable, positive experience, and that’s why we are pleased to offer sedation dentistry for those patients needing a little extra comfort before receiving treatment. Feeling anxious about receiving dental care should never prevent you from having the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

CUSTOMIZED SEDATION DENTISTRY THAT IS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

There are different types of sedation dentistry, and you and your doctor will work together to decide on a personalized treatment plan that will give you the care you need while ensuring your comfort every step of the way.

HOW SEDATION DENTISTRY WORKS

About an hour before you begin your dental treatment, you will be given a small pill to help you relax. Due to the sedative nature of the pill, you will need someone to accompany you to your appointment because you will not be able to drive. When you arrive at our practice, our staff will be waiting for you and will escort you to a private room where you’ll be treated.

Your doctor will gently place an IV and administer medication to help you into a deeper state of relaxation. Once your treatment is complete, you will wake up with little or no memory of the appointment and a beautiful new smile. Using sedation dentistry, we may be able to complete many different procedures, including complex smile makeovers, in just one office visit.

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT SEDATION DENTISTRY

We understand that you may have many questions about sedation dentistry before receiving treatment. Here are some of the most common questions and answers about sedation dentistry:

  • Will I feel anything during my treatment?In most cases, patients do not feel anything. There is very little discomfort, and many patients wake up feeling relaxed and comfortable with almost no memory of the treatment.
  • Is sedation dentistry the same as being unconscious?No. You will still be conscious and responsive but you will be in a deep state of relaxation.
  • Is sedation dentistry safe?Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective way for many patients to receive dental treatment. Before starting your treatment with IV sedation, your doctor will help you decide if IV sedation is right for your treatment.
  • How long will it take the sedation to wear off?The time it takes for the sedatives to wear off depends on the dose you’ve received, how long your treatment is, and how quickly your own body can recover. Because sedation causes drowsiness, it is recommended that you have a family member or friend drive you to and from your appointment. After your treatment, you should not drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery.
  • Am I a good candidate for sedation dentistry?Any patient, from child to adult, who experiences dental anxiety is a good candidate for sedation dentistry. If you have any of the following fears or concerns, ask your doctor about sedation dentistry as an option for your next dental treatment:
    • Extreme dental anxiety, or fear of visiting the dentist
    • Fear of needles and/or shots
    • Past traumatic dental experience
    • Inability to handle the smells or noises at a dentist’s office
    • Overly sensitive teeth, a strong gag reflex, or trouble getting numb
    • Need for a more complex dental treatment
    • Self-consciousness about one’s teeth
    • Desire for a more comfortable dental treatment

If you feel that you could benefit from sedation dentistry at your next appointment, please contact us and let us know how we can better accommodate your needs.

EMERGENCY DENTAL CARE

If you experience a dental emergency, be sure to call our practice as soon as possible. If you need immediate attention after hours, call our emergency phone number and our on-call staff member will help you. If you are unable to reach our office during an emergency, dial 911.

We are here to help you, any time, any day. When your dental health is at risk, we will do everything we can to make sure that you’re treated as soon as possible. While dental emergencies are rare, they can happen, and it’s important to know how to take care of your teeth no matter what. Common dental emergencies include:

  • Broken or cracked tooth/teeth
  • Broken jaw
  • Permanent tooth knocked out
  • Object caught between teeth
  • Severe toothache
Request an Appoitment