Regular Exams and Cleanings | Bonding | Bridges | Crowns | Dentures | Extractions | Fillings | Fluoride | Implant Restoration | Mouthguards | Nightguards | Root Canals | Sealants | Teeth Whitening | Veneers | Wisdom Teeth
Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular visits are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During your visit we will:
- Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
- Perform a cancer screen of the mouth and neck areas
- Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your regular visits will take about 1 hour. Each regular visit includes a detailed teeth cleaning, in which we will clean, polish, and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth's surface. We will also complete an exam with Dr. Michelle.
Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your next dental exam and teeth cleaning.
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.
Tooth bonding can also be used for tooth fillings instead of silver amalgam. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than silver. Bonding fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments, such as porcelain veneers. If it does break or chip, tell your doctor. The bonding can generally be easily patched or repaired in one visit.
Bridges are used to replace a missing tooth in both a cosmetic and functional fashion. A bridge structure is one or more artificial teeth anchored in place by natural teeth, crowns, or implants, on each side of the bridge. Using a bridge to fill the gap from missing teeth helps restore proper bite and prevent teeth from shifting to fill the gap (which may lead to additional bite and jaw joint issues). Bridges can be constructed from gold, porcelain and metal, or ceramic options. Ceramic bridge color is made to match your natural tooth color. Material choice will depend on structural requirements, wear, and aesthetics.
Bridges are used to:
- Replace missing teeth
- Prevent teeth from shifting
- Correct bite issues due to missing teeth
- Help prevent jaw joint problems from altered bite
- Improve appearance (cosmetic reasons)
For more information on bridges, visit the ADA site: Bridges
A crown is a restoration that covers the entire tooth. Usually, the first step in creating a crown for a tooth is to remove all of the prior filling material and any decayed or broken areas. Once the tooth is clean, a special filling, called a buildup, is placed in the void so that a solid, smooth foundation is present. The final step in preparing the tooth is to smooth the very outer layer from the tooth so that there is room for the new material to cover the tooth.
There are several materials that can be used to make the crown. These include:
- All porcelain
- Layered porcelain and zirconium
- All zirconium – BruxZir
- Layered porcelain and metal
- Full gold
Each of these options has a specific purpose and with that, positives and minuses for each of the materials. Dr. Michelle and her staff will help you choose the option that will best meet your goals and the needs of your mouth.
Crowns are used to restore teeth for a variety of reasons. These include:
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Restore a tooth severely damaged by decay
- Protect a tooth from fracture
- Cover a discolored or unattractive tooth
- Cover a dental implant
- Anchor a bridge
Dentures are natural-looking replacement teeth that are removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are given to patients when all of the natural teeth have been removed. Partial dentures are attached to a metal frame that is connected to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been removed. Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be properly cared for. Use a gentle cleanser to brush your dentures, always keep them moist when they’re not in use, and be sure to keep your tongue and gums clean as well. Dr Michelle can refer you to a specialist in denture fabrication for any new, or broken, denture needs.
Dental Fillings are used to restore tooth damage caused by tooth decay. Our office uses primarily composite or tooth-colored fillings.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months.
If you are missing teeth, it is crucial to replace them. Without all your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing, your mouth can shift and even cause your face to look older. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth, and if properly maintained, can last a lifetime!
An implant is a new tooth made of metal and porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth. It’s composed of two main parts: one part is the titanium implant body that takes the place of the missing root, and the second part is the tooth-colored crown that is cemented on top of the implant. With implant treatment, you can smile confidently knowing no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth.
In addition to tooth replacement, implants may be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. For patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace missing teeth so you have a more natural-looking smile.
Whether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Mouth guards help protect your teeth and gums from injury. If you participate in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that you wear a mouth guard. Choosing the right mouth guard is essential. There are three basic types of mouth guards: the pre-made mouth guard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouth guard, and a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist. When you choose a mouth guard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent you from breathing properly. Your dentist can show you how to wear a mouth guard properly and how to choose the right mouth guard to protect your smile.
If you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you may have a common condition called “bruxism.” Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: bite guards. Bite guards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by your dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your top arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.
A root canal becomes needed when tooth decay is so advanced that it reaches the tooth pulp. Once the pulp is infected it cannot heal on its own. Sometimes tooth trauma such as a fracture can lead to the need for a root canal as well. In addition to being painful, untreated infections can reach the root tip and compromise the entire immune system. Symptoms of pulp infections may be:
- Severe sensitivity to hot/cold
- Severe sensitivity to sweets
- Severe pain when biting
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Pain, pressure, or aching that occurs without a specific cause (spontaneous pain)
A root canal procedure includes cleaning out the infected nerve tissue, disinfecting the canals to kill bacteria, and filling the void with a rubber like substance to prevent further infection. Sometimes a crown is recommended to restore the tooth shape, look, and to strengthen the tooth structure.
Dr Michelle can refer you to a dentist that specializes in root canal treatment, an endodontist, for any root canal needs.
Please visit the ADA site for more information: Root Canals
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in-between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your sealants come off, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.
Teeth whitening, as the name implies, is a process for making your smile brighter and more attractive. The many methods of teeth whitening vary widely in time, effectiveness, and cost, but all can help you achieve the smile of your dreams! Although there are many over-the-counter whitening products on the market today, the end result of these methods can be unpredictable.
Dr. Michelle and her staff have traveled as far as Chicago for advanced training in whitening techniques and through the years have developed a custom system that guarantees results. Using the Sapphire Light System® in conjunction with LUMIBRIGHT® whitening gel, we are able to lighten even the toughest colors, including tetracycline staining.
Dental veneers are custom crafted porcelain laminates that fit over the front of an existing tooth. They bond directly to the front of the tooth, dramatically enhancing or restoring its shape, color, and appearance. Although there are a couple of different types of veneers, Dr. Michelle has advanced training in placing a specific type of veneer known as a minimal-prep veneer.
Minimal-prep veneers are different form traditional porcelain veneers because they have very little impact on the existing tooth structure. Rather than removing the entire front surface of the tooth, a minimal-prep veneer only requires a very small amount of the surface to be smoothed. Minimal-prep veneers can be made as thin as a contact lens and still be very durable. Because very little tooth reduction is needed and it does not cross through the enamel, no numbing or shots are needed.
Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. They usually appear in the late teens or early twenties, but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. 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.
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 shorten the recovery time.
In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. 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. In order 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. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Your dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.