Services & Technology: General Dentistry
A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain or plastic that is bonded to a tooth to improve its color and shape. A veneer generally covers only the front and top of the tooth. Veneers can be used to close spaces between the teeth, lengthen small or misshapen teeth, or whiten stained or dark teeth. When teeth are chipped or beginning to wear, veneers can protect them from damage and restore their original appearance.
How do we restore teeth with veneers?
It takes two or more appointments to restore teeth with veneers. During the first appointment we shape and roughen the teeth. We then take impressions of your teeth, which we use to make precise working models of your mouth. It’s on these models that we artistically craft veneers to fit the prepared teeth.
During the second appointment we clean and polish the prepared teeth. Then we use an adhesive to bond the veneers to the teeth. A harmless, high-intensity light hardens the adhesive. Once in place, the veneers virtually become part of the teeth. You can use them like you would your own teeth because the bond is extremely strong. The final result is beautiful and natural-looking teeth.
A tooth-colored crown may be made of both porcelain and metal, or, thanks to newly available technology, it may be made entirely of porcelain.
Metal and porcelain crowns
In the past, porcelain crowns were always built upon a metal core. That was the only way they could have enough strength to withstand the tremendous biting forces that are exerted on all of your teeth. That metal core is what creates the dark blue line at the edge of many crowns.
The benefits of all-porcelain crowns
Recent breakthroughs in adhesives, combined with the development of stronger porcelain materials, allow us to make crowns entirely out of porcelain. All-porcelain crowns maintain a translucency that makes them hard to tell from natural teeth. Without metal, the problem of a dark line at the edge of the gums is eliminated. This allows us to place the edge of the crown above the gum line, and that’s healthier for your tooth and gums.
When you want to improve your smile, all-porcelain crowns are a beautiful and natural-looking choice.
New tooth-colored options:
Dental research has resulted in the development of new tooth-colored materials that are not only durable and long lasting, but attractive as well. These materials, porcelain and composite resin, provide an attractive, natural look while at the same time restoring strength and durability to your tooth.
Both porcelain and composite resin are bonded directly to the tooth, restoring it to near its original strength and function. Both can be custom-colored to precisely match your teeth, so when porcelain or resin fillings are replaced, they’re extremely natural looking. This can really make a difference in your appearance, especially if the restoration is visible when you smile.
More advantages of white restorations:
When we place an amalgam filling, we have to remove extra healthy tooth structure, just so the filling will stay in place. When we restore your tooth with composite resin, we need to remove only the decayed portion because the bond anchors the material tightly in place. This means you retain more healthy tooth structure.
Also, because white filings are bonded to your tooth, they add strength to the tooth.
So if you are looking for an attractive and effective option for restoring one or more decayed teeth, be sure to ask us about the latest choices in white restorative materials.
With bonding, we can close spaces between teeth, lengthen small or misshapen teeth, or whiten stained or dark teeth. We can shape and color a single tooth or improve your entire smile. When teeth are chipped or beginning to wear, bonding can protect them from damage and restore their original looks.
Bonding your teeth with a material called resin requires just one appointment. First, we roughen and prepare the teeth and apply a conditioning gel. Then we place the resin, sculpt it to the desired shape, and harden it with a harmless, high-intensity light.
Once in place, bonded restorations are very strong. Bonding can drastically improve your smile — the final result is beautiful and natural looking teeth.
Over time, your teeth darken as minerals penetrate their outer enamel layer. This darkening can be caused by foods and beverages that stain, such as coffee, colas, tea, red wine, or berries. Tobacco products, like cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, can cause teeth to take on a yellowish brown hue. And the natural aging process can also cause your teeth to darken.
We can prescribe a home whitening system that will safely lighten these stains, giving you a whiter, brighter smile. A specially formulated whitening gel, designed to be highly effective, yet safe, gently forces oxygen through the enamel of your teeth. The process virtually erases stains and brightens your teeth, without damaging your tooth enamel or your gums.
Designing Your Whitening System:
First, we thoroughly examine your teeth and your mouth to make sure at-home whitening is an appropriate option for you. We then take impressions of your teeth, and use the impressions to make models of your teeth. Using these models, we make a personalized whitening tray that fits tightly over your teeth, allowing us to achieve optimum results.
At home, you’ll fill the tray with the whitening gel and place the tray over your teeth, keeping it in place for several hours each day. You can wear the whitening trays while you sleep, or if you prefer, you can wear them as you go about your day. Typically, you’ll begin to see results in two or three weeks.
We’ll monitor your progress on a regular basis, ensuring that your gums are not becoming irritated and your teeth are whitening as desired. When the process is complete, your smile will be noticeably whiter and brighter.
Maintaining Your New Whiter Smile:
Let us know if you experience some sensitivity during or following the whitening process. This is normal, and should subside shortly. We can suggest toothpaste that will alleviate the sensitivity.
Avoid food and beverages that stain, like coffee, cola, tea, berries and red wine, or brush with water after consuming them.
See us periodically for touch-ups to remove new stains.
Single Tooth Implants:
Why replace a missing tooth?
When you lose a tooth, the biting forces change on the teeth next to the space, causing them to shift. Opposing teeth may even begin to extrude out of the socket, which means they too could eventually be lost.
As your bite changes, it gets more difficult to chew your food, and you may suffer damage to your jaw joint. It’s also much harder to clean teeth that have shifted; harmful plaque and tartar collect in the new hard-to-reach places created by the shifting, causing tooth decay and periodontal disease.
For all these reasons, it’s critical that we replace a lost tooth. An excellent option for replacing a missing tooth is an artificial tooth secured by a dental implant. Implants are titanium cylinders that are surgically placed in your jaw to serve as artificial tooth roots. Attaching a replacement tooth to an implant allows us to avoid placing a bridge. Bridges require that we prepare the adjacent natural teeth, and that weakens them substantially.
Benefits of Implants
An implant and crown is practically indistinguishable from your natural teeth, and it fits so securely that you won’t even notice it when you chew and speak. When we place an implant, it’s not necessary for us to alter the structure of the adjacent teeth, so their strength and integrity is maintained. Also, an implant replaces the roots of a missing tooth, which helps to lessen the bone loss that occurs when a tooth is missing. In essence, an implant is the next best thing to your natural tooth.
Do implants work for everyone?
Start-to-finish, the procedure may require several months to complete because it can take about four to six months for the implant to fuse to your bone tissue through a process called osseointegration. An implant won’t work for you if you aren’t in good general health. Your gums and jaw bone must be healthy enough to support the implant, and you must be meticulous about your daily homecare routine. You’ll also need to visit us up to four times a year for cleanings.
We won’t recommend an implant if you suffer from a chronic illness such as diabetes, as this can interfere with healing. And if you’re a smoker, you may not be a good candidate for an implant.
Smokers are at greater risk for gum disease, and gum disease weakens the bone and soft tissue needed to support the implant. If you’re interested in replacing a missing tooth with an implant, we will perform a thorough evaluation to determine whether your health and lifestyle make you a good candidate for this kind of restoration.
The visible exterior layer of a tooth is called the enamel. Beneath the enamel is another hard layer, called the dentin. The dentin surrounds a small chamber at the center of the tooth that contains the pulp. Tooth pulp is a soft tissue made up of nerves, arteries, and veins. The pulp extends from the pulp chamber down through narrow channels, called the root canals, to the tips of the roots.
How did my tooth become infected?
The two most common causes of infection in the pulp are deep cavities and fractured or broken teeth. Both expose the pulp to bacteria that live in saliva. These bacteria, which are always present in your mouth, can cause an infection that can kill the pulp. Without treatment, the pus from the infection can eventually gather down at the root tip and pass into the jaw bone, causing an abscess (a pus pocket). The abscess can then damage the bone that surrounds the tooth. The resulting pressure inside the bone and ligaments surrounding the tooth can cause excruciating pain, and left untreated, can even be life threatening.
You may have realized that you had an infected tooth because it was sensitive to hot and cold, was swollen and painful, or had given you a bad taste in your mouth. On the other hand, you may have been completely unaware that you had an infection because you experienced no symptoms at all.
Root canal treatment
An infected tooth will never heal on its own, and as it gets worse, it will continue to be a source of infection that depletes your immune system, which can affect your entire body. Years ago, your only option would be for us to extract the tooth. But today, we can remove the infection with root canal treatment, and save your tooth.
Diagnosing Periodontal Disease:
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth, gums, and the bone that surrounds the teeth, and it’s the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Stopping this condition begins with a thorough diagnosis.
What causes periodontal disease?
The main cause of periodontal disease is the accumulation of plaque, the sticky film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth.
If plaque isn’t removed each day, the bacteria in plaque invade the spaces between the teeth and gums and begin producing toxins. These toxins, combined with your body’s reaction to them, destroy the bone around your teeth. And once bone has been lost, it never grows back on its own.
When too much bone is lost, there’s so little support for the teeth, they get loose and have to be removed.
The warning signs
If you have periodontal disease, you may be experiencing persistent bad breath, bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing, soft, swollen, or tender gums, gums pulling away from the teeth, or loose teeth. You may also notice inflammation of the gums between the teeth. This is where periodontal disease usually starts.
It is also possible to have no noticeable symptoms. In fact, most people who have periodontal disease aren’t even aware of it.
Diagnosis and treatment
To find periodontal disease, we perform a thorough examination with a periodontal probe and x-rays. Periodontal probing measures the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. When you have periodontal disease, these spaces are called pockets. We measure the pocket from the bottom of the pocket, where it’s attached to the tooth, to the top of the gums. A probe reading of more than three millimeters is a sign of periodontal disease. In general, the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of periodontal disease.
Gums sometimes bleed during probing. This is also a sign of infection. X-rays tell us a lot about periodontal disease. As periodontal disease progresses, x-rays will show that jawbone levels have become uneven, and that bone has receded away from the necks of the teeth.
Once we’ve found periodontal disease, we’ll talk with you about treatment options and proper homecare to minimize bone loss and restore the health of your gums.