Composite fillings – also known as tooth-colored fillings – are dental restorations designed to be inconspicuous and natural in appearance. They blend well with the teeth and appear more natural than amalgam fillings, which are darker and more easily seen by other people. Composite fillings are made of ceramic and plastic compounds that chemically bond to the teeth. They can be used to fill in decayed areas of the teeth, as well as to help repair chipped or broken teeth. Most dentists use composite restorations to treat the teeth closest to the front of the mouth, as they are more noticeable when patients smile. However, advancements in dental technology and the composition of composite fillings have made it possible for dentists to also use tooth-colored fillings on molars, which receive more wear than other teeth.
Did you know…
that composite fillings allow dentists to preserve more of the natural tooth structure? This is because composite materials chemically bond to the surface of the tooth like an adhesive. The process takes slightly longer to complete than traditional amalgam fillings, but patients can preserve more of the natural portion of the teeth while enjoying a restoration that is discreet and understated.
If you have a cavity, broken tooth, or a deteriorated filling, you may be a candidate for a tooth-colored filling. Schedule a dental consultation to find out if composites are right for you.
During your visit, your gums and teeth will be anesthetized with a local anesthetic near the site of the filling. Once the area is numb, the decayed or damaged portion of your teeth will be removed to make room for the new tooth-colored filling. A resin will be placed over the area and cured with a hand-held light for less than a minute. The new filling will then be shaped and polished before the procedure is complete.
Composite fillings are cured with light at your dentist’s office. You should be able to return to normal activity and oral care immediately after your visit. It’s normal for treated teeth to experience some sensitivity to hot and cold in the days following treatment, but sensitivity that persists beyond a week should be reported to your dentist.
Preventative dentistry is about more than just visiting your dentist twice yearly for an exam and thorough cleaning. In fact, the majority of your preventative care is done at-home as a part of your normal hygienic routine. Many residents use manual toothbrushes to remove debris and plaque from their teeth. However, electric brushes have become widely popular in recent years, leaving some to wonder whether one type is better than the other.
Did you know…
the American Dental Association does not lean toward one type of brush over the other? It does, however, acknowledge that people with upper body mobility restrictions may better benefit from an electric toothbrush instead of a manual brush. Regardless of which type you decide is right for you, the ADA recommends that all brushes be soft-bristled so as to avoid abrasions that can lead to decay and receding gum lines.
You can effectively brush your teeth with either a manual toothbrush or an electric one. However, the rapid movements of motorized versions may be more effective at removing plaque from the teeth and gum line. If you have questions about which toothbrush is best for you, speak with your dentist about it at your next visit. He or she may recommend an electric brush with an oscillating head or a brush that includes a timer to let you know how long to brush.
Regardless of whether you choose an electric brush or a manual brush, it should be easy for you to maneuver in your mouth and behind your back teeth. If the head is too big, it may not be effectively removing plaque from your teeth.
Yes. Your toothbrush should be replaced at least once every three to four months or whenever you notice fraying. However, most electric toothbrushes come with interchangeable heads. In other words, you won’t need to replace the entire device – only the brush itself.
Flossing is an important part of an oral hygiene routine, but research suggests that fewer than half of Americans do so daily. Flossing is simple and only takes an extra couple of minutes per day. Developing a healthy habit of flossing can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and it may allow you to keep more of your natural teeth as you age. So what is the most effective means of flossing?
Need some extra tips?
The American Dental Association recommends using a strand of floss approximately 18 inches in length. It is important to only use clean floss as you move between the teeth. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by looping each end of the floss around your fingers and beginning to floss with the area closest to one end. If you have never flossed, be sure to ask your dentist for a quick in-person tutorial at your next check-up.
Yes. The ADA recommends that everyone floss in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Even if you have restorations, such as crowns or veneers, good oral hygiene is essential for prolonging their use and maintaining your oral health.
You may not experience immediate results from flossing, but over time, your habit will pay off. Flossing can prevent tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss – all of which can be highly inconvenient and expensive to treat. A piece of floss that costs just pennies could save you thousands of dollars later on.
Yes. In addition to flossing, you should be adopting proper brushing techniques and visiting your dentist at least twice per year for examinations and professional dental cleanings.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that has been shown to help strengthen teeth in children and also prevent decay in people of all ages. Topical fluoride, in particular is helpful for promoting oral health. The American Dental Association has publicly endorsed the use of fluoride for the prevention of dental caries, as has the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.
Did you know…
that you might be drinking fluoride every day without knowing it? Many communities add fluoride to the public water supply in an effort to promote better dental health. You can find out if there is fluoride in your tap water by contacting your local water utility. Keep in mind that if your primary source of drinking water is bottled, you may not be getting fluoride. You can contact your bottle water company or manufacturer to find out if fluoride is in your water. If not, speak with your dentist about getting professional fluoride treatments.
You may need fluoride treatments if your drinking water is not fluoridated or if you are experiencing certain symptoms, such as receding gums. Fluoride treatments can also provide oral support and prevent decay if you wear orthodontic braces or are taking medications that cause dry mouth.
Fluoride treatments are painless and can be administered in your dentist’s office at your twice-yearly check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will distribute fluoridated gel, foam or varnish into a tray and place it over your teeth. The treatment takes only a few minutes and is only required between one and four times per year.
Yes. The ADA recommends supplementing your fluoridated drinking water or fluoride treatments with a fluoridated toothpaste.
If you are undergoing a dental procedure or operation, you will be given a set of post-operative instructions to abide by in the hours, days, and weeks after your treatment. Following these instructions is essential to preventing infections in surgical sites, protecting restorations, and minimizing the possibility of experiencing complications. Post-operative instructions vary from procedure to procedure, but you are still sure to have some questions regarding care. Your [city] dentist will be available to answer those questions and respond to any concerns you may have.
Try to anticipate some of the questions you may have about your post-operative care and ask them prior to your treatment.
Some of the most common post-op questions include:
How should I manage pain following my procedure?
How long should I experience discomfort?
Do I need to follow any special dietary guidelines?
Is it safe for me to drink through a straw?
Will I be able to drive myself home after my procedure?
Will I need to take an antibiotic?
Will I need to return to your office for a follow-up appointment?
When will my permanent restorations be ready?
How do I care for my removable prosthesis?
Yes. Your post-operative care is contingent on you understanding everything about the recovery process and your responsibilities in caring for your surgical site.
Your dentist should allocate enough time in your consultation and pre-operative exam to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have. You should also be provided a phone number that you can call following your procedure to discuss any questions that may come up at that time.
Yes. Begin thinking of any questions you may have about your post-operative care, and begin writing them down. You’ll be ready to ask all of your questions when the opportunity arises without missing any important details.
Dental crowns and bridges are custom-fitted tooth prosthetics that are used to replace or restore damaged or missing teeth. Crowns – also known as caps – are fixed over the surfaces of natural tooth structures or dental implants. Bridges are used to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and are anchored in place by the natural teeth or crowns nearest the empty space. Both crowns and bridges are non-removable and must be cemented in place by a licensed dentist. Patients who get crown or bridges to restore their smiles achieve both the function and appearance of natural, healthy teeth.
Did you know…
that the Etruscan civilization were the first to use crowns as a means of restoring damaged teeth? In fact, the materials they used – ivory, gold, and bones – were still the standard in dentistry as recently as the 20th century, when porcelain crowns were first invented. Today, crowns and bridges are customized specifically for the patient’s bite and can usually be placed in as little as one or two dental visits. With proper cleaning and regular dental check-ups, crowns and bridges can last many years, or even a lifetime.
If you have a tooth that is damaged or decayed, but still intact, a dental crown may be right for you. If your tooth is missing, but its former position is surrounded by other tooth structures, a bridge may be the solution for you. Schedule an office consultation to determine whether you could benefit from crowns or bridges.
If you are a candidate for a crown or bridge, your teeth will be reduced to ensure a proper fit. An impression will then be taken of your bite and used to fabricate a mold for the crown or bridge. If you are choosing porcelain prosthesis, its color will be matched to the natural shade of your other teeth. If a dental lab is making your crown or bridge, you may be fitted with a temporary restoration until the permanent one is ready for placement.
Your teeth will need time to heal following the crown and bridge placement process, so it is normal for you to experience some sensitivity – especially to hot and cold. Additionally, you may experience soreness in the gums surrounding your restorations, though this is usually manageable with ibuprofen and should subside within a few days.
Dentures are removable tooth prosthetics designed to look and function like natural teeth. For thousands of years, some form of denture has been used to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth, although today’s dentures are much more advanced and easier to care for. Most dentures are composed of replacement teeth attached to plastic bases that take on the appearance of the gums. They are used to compensate for one or more missing teeth, and are available as partials and complete sets of teeth. Many dental patients elect dentures for tooth replacement if they are not candidates for dental implants or are otherwise looking for a tooth replacement option that is more affordable and budget-friendly.
Did you know…
Your dentures are custom designed to fit your smile, but did you know that improperly caring for them can cause them to become distorted? Most removable dentures must maintain moisture to retain their shape. Be sure to wash them after eating, gently clean them once daily, and allow them to soak overnight in a denture soaking solution. This will keep your dentures clean and free of stains, which ultimately helps your smile look its best.
If you are missing one or more teeth and thinking of getting dentures, you will first need a professional consultation with a dentist experienced in denture placement. During this time, you can explore your tooth prosthetic options, ask questions, and make a decision as to whether dentures are right for you.
Your gums must first be prepared before you can begin wearing dentures. If you need one or more teeth removed, the process could take several months while you wait for your gums to heal from the extractions. An impression will then be taken of your gums and the supporting bones beneath the gum, which will be used to fabricate a complete or partial denture in a dental lab.
Once your dentures are ready, you can begin wearing them on a daily basis. Expect the first few weeks to be an adjustment period, during which time you will adapt to the feel of your new dentures, as well as learn how to manipulate your tongue and cheek muscles to keep them in place. You may also experience slight irritation or soreness from the initial denture wear although this should subside after a few days or weeks.
Inlays and onlays are dental restorations that are more extensive than dental fillings but less so than caps and crowns. They are typically formed in a dental lab and are made of gold, porcelain or resin depending on the patient’s needs and aesthetic goals. An inlay refers to a restoration that is formed to fit the center of a tooth, whereas an onlay refers to a restoration that encompasses at least, one cusp of the tooth. Both inlays and onlays are bonded to the surface of damaged teeth and matched to the color of the surrounding teeth.
Did you know…
that inlays and onlays can serve as alternative treatments to dental crowns when you have a broken or damaged tooth? When fillings are not enough to adequately repair a tooth, an inlay or onlay can be custom-created to fit securely onto the tooth’s surface. Depending on the materials used, the restoration can be created to appear natural and will have the same function of an organic tooth. Inlays and onlays have extremely high success rates and because they are custom made for each patient, most last longer than traditional fillings.
You could be a candidate for an inlay or onlay in if you have moderate tooth damage or decay and are in search of an alternative restoration option to a crown or cap. Schedule a dental consultation for a complete examination and to find out if an inlay or onlay is right for you.
Your inlay or onlay restoration will be completed over multiple dental treatments. First, your tooth will be prepared for treatment, and an impression will be taken to serve as a mold for your new restoration. You may be fitted with a temporary restoration while your permanent inlay or onlay is fabricated. Once completed, you will return to have the temporary restoration removed and the permanent one bonded to the surface of the teeth.
Special care needs to be given to your teeth while temporary restorations are in place. It is important to avoid sticky or hard foods that could cause significant damage to temporaries. Once you receive your permanent inlay or onlay, you can resume normal eating, brushing and flossing habits.
Root canals are valuable dental procedures used to treat and preserve teeth with badly infected roots. The pulp is the live portion of the tooth that extends into the root and contains nerve endings and tissues. When it becomes infected, patients can experience pain, swelling and even total tooth loss unless treated. Root canals remove the damaged parts of the tooth and infected root. In some cases, an antibiotic is prescribed to help prevent further infection within the tooth. The organic portion of the tooth that remains may be restored using a cap or crown that provides a natural appearance and normal tooth function.
Many patients associate root canals with pain and discomfort.
But local anesthetics and advancements in modern dentistry have made root canals highly tolerable procedures that are often no less comfortable than getting a standard filling. Upon completion, a restored tooth that has undergone a root canal will blend in with surrounding teeth – virtually undetectable to the average eye. More than 9 out of 10 root canal procedures are successful, and most treatments last many years or even a lifetime.
You could be a candidate for a root canal if decay or damage has allowed bacteria to infect the pulp inside your tooth. A root canal could also be the right treatment for you if you prefer to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible instead of extracting both the healthy and diseased portions of your tooth. For more information about root canals and whether they are right for you, schedule a dental exam and consultation at your earliest convenience.
If you decide to undergo a root canal, the first step in your procedure will involve a local anesthetic. Once your tooth root is numb, the diseased portion of your tooth pulp will be removed and potentially treated for bacterial infection. The tooth will then be sealed and filled before being restored with a crown.
It is normal for teeth to become inflamed after a root canal, potentially causing sensitivity for the first several days following treatment. However, normal brushing and flossing habits can be resumed immediately after treatment and restoration is complete.
Like a bridge, partial dentures rest on surrounding teeth to fill in the gaps where one or more teeth are missing. But unlike a bridge, partial dentures are fully removable by the wearer. Partials are affordable alternatives to other types of dental prosthetics and are custom-made to blend in with each patient’s natural teeth. It takes a little time to adapt to new partials, but many people find that they reclaim much of their original function and aesthetics with partial dentures in place.
Did you know?
Partial dentures require gentle care and frequent cleaning. Once you get your new partial dentures, you’ll need to:
- Keep them moist at all times by soaking them in a denture solution when not in use
- Gently brush your dentures daily using a soft-bristled tooth brush
- Be careful not to drop your partial dentures, as they may break
- Avoid exposing your partial to hot temperatures that could cause warping
You may be a candidate for partial dentures if you have one or more missing teeth, and the space they once filled is surrounded by other teeth or permanent restorations. To find out more about whether partial dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.
If you decide to get a partial denture, you’ll need to visit your dentist to have metal clasps attached to your surrounding teeth and an impression made of the area your partial will fill. The impression will be sent to a dental lab, where a technician will fabricate a custom denture that includes a gum-colored base that will fit securely over your gums. A metal framework will be used to attach your new partial to the clasps on your natural teeth to ensure a secure fit.
Yes. Good oral health is still important – even if you have a few missing teeth. In addition to caring for your new dental prosthetic, you’ll also need to brush your gums and tongue twice daily to stimulate circulation and remove bacteria that could cause gum disease. Continue seeing your dentist twice yearly for exams and cleanings, and be sure to bring your partial dentures along to each visit. After a few years, you may find that your partial needs to be rebased to better fit the changes to the bone structure in your mouth.