Restorative & General Dentistry

Bridges | Dentures | TMJ/TMD Treatment | Extractions | Preventive Care | Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatments

Bridges

A bridge is a dental device that fills a space that a tooth previously occupied. A bridge may be necessary to prevent:

  • Shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and resultant periodontal disease.
  • Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.

There are three main types of bridges, namely:

  • A fixed bridge is the most popular and consists of a filler tooth that is attached to two crowns, which fit over the existing teeth and hold the bridge in place.
  • The “Maryland” bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth and consists of a filler that is attached to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth. The metal bands consist of a white-colored composite resin that matches existing tooth color.
  • The cantilever bridge is often used when there are teeth on only one side of the span. A typical three-unit cantilever bridge consists of two crowned teeth positioned next to each other on the same side of the missing tooth space. The filler tooth is then connected to the two crowned teeth, which extend into the missing tooth space or end.
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Dentures

Periodontal disease, injury and tooth decay can all cause a loss of your natural teeth. However, we can bring back the smile on your face with dentures to restore your missing teeth. With improved technology and updated materials, dentists can now make them appear more natural and more comfortable for the patient.

Types of Dentures

There are two types of dentures: complete and partial.

  • Complete dentures cover the patient’s entire jaw.
  • Partial dentures, with their metal framework, replace multiple missing teeth.

To know which type is best for you, be sure to ask your doctor.

It may take some time to adjust to your dentures. Speaking and eating may feel different at first, but these regular activities will resume normally once you are accustomed to your dentures.

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TMJ/TMD Treatment

The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “TMJ joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.

We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue, which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth. Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ.

For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouthguard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.

TMD Patient Instructions

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Extractions

General Extractions

An extraction is the complete removal of a tooth. Extractions are sometimes necessary if a primary tooth is preventing the normal eruption of a permanent tooth, if the tooth has suffered extensive tooth decay or trauma that cannot be repaired, if the patient has gum disease, or if the tooth is impacted (usually the wisdom teeth). Depending on the complexity of the case, an extraction can be performed surgically or non-surgically. A mild anesthesia is used to ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth

Your third molars are more commonly called "wisdom teeth." Usually appearing in the late teens or early twenties, third molars often lack the proper space in the jaw to erupt fully or even at all. This common condition is called impaction. When any tooth lacks the space to come through or simply develops in the wrong place of your jaw and becomes impacted, problems can arise. Primarily, damage to adjacent teeth and crowding occur.

In certain cases, the wisdom tooth that cannot come through becomes inflamed under the gums and in the jawbone, causing a sac to develop around the root of the tooth that then fills with liquid. This can cause a cyst or an abscess if it becomes infected. If either of these situations goes untreated, serious damage to the underlying bone and surrounding teeth and tissues can result.

To potentially stave off this result, an extraction of one, several or all of the wisdom teeth may be advised. If that is the case, we have the equipment and training needed to perform such extractions, with an absolute minimum of discomfort. Ask your doctor or any of our staff for more information.

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Preventive Care

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene prevents unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

Sealants

The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. We guarantee the placement of sealants for 2 years. It is possible the sealants will remain in place for many years, but they need to be checked during regular hygiene appointments.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:

  • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t suck his or her thumb.
  • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety – thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
  • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
  • Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.

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Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatments

Snoring affects millions of people of all ages, both male and female. Oral appliance therapy is the most common treatment for the most severe snoring problems. Treatment procedures range from changing your sleep patterns to utilizing orthodontic-related appliances that help open the airways during sleep.

Common Causes of Snoring

Snoring is caused by the vibrations of your soft and/or hard tissue palates; these vibrations occur because of increasingly narrow air passages. When air passes through these passages, a “flapping” sound occurs because the tissue is soft in nature. Surgery (to alleviate the snoring) is not always successful, however, because the sound may not originate from the soft palate; the snoring sometimes originates from tissues in the upper airway.

Common causes:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Health problems
  • Obesity
  • Obstructed nasal passages – deviated septum
  • Poor muscle tone of the tongue
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies

Sleep Apnea

Loud snorers may have a more serious case of blocked air passages, known as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). In these cases, the blockage of air is so great that no air can get through, causing repeated awakenings throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute or lead to many other conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and depression, so it is important to be diagnosed by a medical professional if you experience any sleep-related symptoms.

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