Fillings are done to remove decay, and restore the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because a new material is placed into the tooth to fill the open space left from the decay. Many teeth can be treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings. Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. An untreated decay can lead to tooth pain or infection often requiring more extensive treatment or extraction. Early diagnosis and intervention is advised.
Sealants are used to fill in narrow pits and grooves in the back teeth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. Plaque and bacteria left on the biting surfaces can lead to tooth decay. This is where most decay occurs in children. The chewing surface is micro etched and a thin resin bonded material is applied to the surface. The sealant material may be clear or tooth colored. Sealants have been clinically tested and proven effective in prevention of decay.
The soft tissue, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for support of the teeth. All structures are also referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth as well. Signs of unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) may be as follows: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. Any of these symptoms may mean something is wrong. With the proper care, however, it may be possible to return the periodontium to a healthy state. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. If the gum disease gets too severe it may need to be treated through surgery or extraction. It is important to get treatment at the first sign of any problem for the best long term result.
An X-ray or radiograph is a low dosage focused beam that passes through bone to produce a digital image viewable on a computer screen. This gives the familiar black and white images that doctors and dentists use to diagnose problems. Radiographs are a necessary and vital part of the diagnostic process. Without an X-ray of the whole tooth, supporting bone and periodontium, an undiagnosed problem may progress. A full series of radiographs displays multiple images of the patients upper and lower jaws. Cavity detecting x-rays are taken to view between the teeth, which are the most frequently susceptible areas for decay in adults.
A professional dental cleaning and exam is usually recommended at 6 month intervals. The dental hygienist will perform a thorough prophylaxis (cleaning) at this appointment. She will also check the soft tissue and bone support surrounding the teeth. After the tooth scaling and coronal polishing is completed, the hygienist will review home care with the patient including brushing and flossing. She is available to address most patient concerns such as orthodontic referrals or nutritional questions. The doctor will then complete the patient's hygiene appointment with an oral exam. The hygienist will review her findings or concerns. The doctor may recommend treatment or confirm a 6 month recare appointment is adequate.
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