Even if you brush and floss your teeth every day, you still need a professional dental cleaning every six months or so. A thorough dental cleaning from your dentist or dental hygienist takes about 25–30 minutes. You need it done every six months to prevent plaque buildup. Left untreated, excessive plaque can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay.
- Dental Cleaning
Your routine dental cleaning should include three things: scaling, root planing and polishing. In plain English, here’s a brief explanation.
This involves removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces using a variety of methods, depending on the amount of buildup.
Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, advanced technology has led to newer, modern methods such as electric scalers. These sophisticated tools allow more efficient cleanings to be performed in less time.
For best results, we combine both electric and manual scaling methods during dental cleanings.
2. Root Planing
This is the process of cleaning pockets in the gums to treat and prevent gum problems.
Root planing is used to treat moderate to advanced gum diseases. When the gum is inflamed, gum pockets become deeper and may lose connections to the bone inside. (Not good!) As pockets become deeper, it gets easier for plaque deposits to become trapped. That makes gum problems worse.
Root planing can take several appointments to complete. A pointed dental tool called a “scaler” is inserted into the gum pockets to remove plaque buildup and a local anesthesia may be used to prevent pain.
This last cleaning step involves finishing the surface of the teeth to make them shiny and clean.
There are two kinds of polishing:
Air polishing works by spraying high-pressured water mixed with baking soda paste onto the tooth surface. The powered water washes away residue and plaque, while the baking soda removes stains.
Rubber-cup polishing uses a low-speed, gentle hand-piece containing a polishing paste of abrasive ingredients that remove stains.
Some teeth have very fine grooves or pits in which plaque accumulates—not for lack of brushing, but just because the crevices are too small or narrow to fit even one bristle inside.
A sealant coating may be used to fill these spaces, making it possible to brush off plaque and prevent cavities from developing.
This involves adhering a composite resin to the front of the tooth to repair damage caused by decay, alter alignment, close gaps between teeth, or other cosmetic purposes.
First, the surface of the tooth is roughened to accept the bonding. A gel is applied so the resin will stick to the tooth surface. The composite (matched to the color of your tooth) is then placed on the tooth and the bonding agent hardened with intense light. Lastly, shaping and polishing provide a lustrous finish.
This is a way to repair tooth decay damage.
If you have a tooth that needs a filling, the decayed tooth material is removed first, the affected area cleaned, then the cleaned out cavity gets filled. The filling material prevents further decay by closing off cracks or spaces where bacteria can get in.
Filling materials include gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. (Our office uses plastic and porcelain exclusively.)
4 Types of Filling Materials:
• Gold fillings are custom made in a laboratory, then cemented into place. Although gold is often the most expensive choice, many consider it the best filling material. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissues and may last more than 20 years.
• Amalgam (silver) fillings are tolerant to wear but less expensive. However, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite fillings due to their dark color and are not recommended for visible areas such as front teeth.
• Composite (plastic) resins are custom made to the exact color of your natural teeth, creating a more natural appearance. Although white fillings may be less noticeable than other materials, they usually only last 3 to 10 years and may not be ideal for large fillings since they can chip or wear out over time. They may also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
• Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays. These are custom created in a lab and can be matched to your tooth color. They resist staining and are about the same cost as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown (or “cap”) may be recommended. Decay that reaches the nerve may be treated with a root canal or a procedure called pulp capping.
- Non-Surgical Gum Treatment
Non-Surgical Gum Treatment
The foundation for teeth are formed by the gums, ligaments, and surrounding bone. Collectively, these are also referred to as the periodontium.
Just like a bad foundation threatens the stability of a house, an unhealthy periodontium jeopardizes the teeth.
Signs of unhealthy periodontium:
• Gums that are red and bleed easily
• Persistent bad breath
• Gums that are pulled away from the tooth
• Loose teeth
• Changes in the position or bite of the teeth
It may be possible to restore gum tissue to a healthy state after proper treatments. If you’re having a problem (such as any of those described above) come see us so we can treat it right away.
Treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root-planing performed under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents.
It’s important to have gum problems checked promptly, because gum disease left unchecked may eventually need treatment through surgery or extraction.
- Nightguards & Mouthguards
Nightguards & Mouthguards
As the name implies, mouthguards and nightguards are custom-designed protectors. They’re made of flexible plastic molded to fit the shape of your teeth.
Mouthguards – recommended to protect the jaw and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, or other activities where your mouth may be hit. Guards also protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.
Nightguards – recommended to protect the teeth and bite of patients who clench or grind their teeth at night.
If you need a guard, an impression will be taken of your teeth, which is then sent to a lab to create a custom-fitted guard. Guards last from 3–10 years, on average.
- TMJ Treatments
TMJ stands for “temporal-mandibular joint.” So what does it really mean? Temporal is the temple area of skull. Mandibular refers to mandible, or lower jaw. The joint is where the head and jaw meet.
Cartilage buffers the two bones and five muscles that meet in this area, but problems can create pain and biting difficulties. TMJ problems may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension.
• Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
• Clicking or popping of the jaw
• Jaw muscle pain
• Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
• Replacing missing teeth
• Moving teeth
• Adjusting the bite
• Filling gaps between teeth
No single solution is right in all TMJ cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece may be used to prevent clenching or grinding that adds to the problem.
In severe cases or if left untreated, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint.