Checkup Exams & Scaling
Regular dental checkups and scaling are essential for maintaining good oral health. Only a dentist can perform a dental checkup exam and in doing so can diagnose conditions like dental caries (tooth decay), gum disease (periodontitis), dental infections, or oral cancer.
Tooth decay or dental caries is one of the most common infectious diseases. Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria on teeth digest sugars and in turn produce acid. This acid causes a progressive loss of the mineral content and in turn the destruction of the enamel and dentin which make up the hard tissue of the tooth. If allowed to continue, a cavity will progress into and infect the nerve of the tooth. Small cavities can be easily treated by removing the decayed matter and replacing with a filling material to prevent any further spread. Filling materials include composite resin (a white plastic) or silver amalgam (an alloy of several metals).
Crowns or caps are a type of dental restoration which involve covering the entire surface of the tooth. Crowns are used when large parts of the tooth are destroyed due to decay or fracture, or as a protective measure after root canal therapy on a molar or bicuspid (posterior teeth). Crowns can be made of many different materials like ceramics, metals, or a combination of metal and ceramic. Crowns typically take two appointments: during the first appointment the tooth is prepared, an impression is taken, and a temporary crown placed. The impression is sent to a laboratory, which then creates the crown. Once it is ready, the crown is tried in and cemented in place during the second appointment. With the advancement of dental materials and techniques, crowns can be made to look just as good as natural teeth.
Root Canal Therapy
When the nerve of a tooth is infected, the tooth dies and becomes a place where the bacteria can remain and evade the immune system. Without intervention, an infected tooth will remain a source of infection. The infection can then spread into the surrounding tissues like bone, or even into a vulnerable place like the brain. That is why dental infections are to be taken very seriously. Root canal therapy is the way to treat an infected tooth yet allowing one to keep the tooth. Root canal therapy uses instruments and antibacterial rinses to clean the inside of the tooth to get rid of dead and infected tissue. To keep bacteria out, a filling material is placed in the now empty clean spaces. After root canal therapy, the outer structure of the tooth needs to be restored - this can be done either with a filling or a crown. Root canal therapy is done using local anesthesia (freezing) to keep you very comfortable. We can perform root canal therapy as well as other procedures using nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral, or iv sedation to make the process even easier.
Bacteria form a biofilm on teeth called plaque, which is soft and can be removed with a toothbrush and floss. If left behind, plaque can harden and form tartar. Because it is hard and adhered to the tooth rather strongly, tartar cannot be removed at home with a toothbrush and floss and therefore continues to accumulate. Tartar harbors bacteria that harm the gums and bone which surround the teeth, also known as the periodontium. Bacterial irritation will cause inflammation of the gums (Gingivitis) and in some people the loss of the bone surrounding the teeth which is gum disease or periodontal disease. Without professional intervention this bone loss can continue until the affected teeth become progressively looser and can eventually fall out. The purpose of periodontal therapy is to reduce the amount of bacteria around the teeth with the aim of preserving the bone around the teeth. Periodontal therapy begins with physically removing the tartar from teeth using a variety of instruments. Good home care like brushing and flossing, as well as regular periodontal therapy is critical in maintaining good oral health.