During a dental examination your dentist will use instruments, tests, radiographs and clinical expertise to diagnose potential serious dental issues. An individualized plan is developed to prevent or treat disease states of the oral cavity. In the case of basic dental care, your general dentist will work with you to identify your goals.
Fillings work by replacing the part of the tooth destroyed by tooth decay. The dentist molds them to match the shape of the surrounding tooth. They restore the strength and integrity of the tooth and prevent decay from re-entering the vulnerable area.
Periodontal disease is a chronic disease, very much like diabetes. Like diabetes, periodontal disease must be continuously managed to prevent the disease from getting the best of you. Most people are susceptible to periodontal disease.
A deep cleaning is actually a specific procedure performed by your dental hygienist to treat gum and periodontal disease. It’s often completed because a person has not had regular professional cleaning appointments every six months.
Excessive tooth decay, tooth infection, and crowding can all require a tooth extraction. Those who get braces may need one or two teeth removed to provide room for their other teeth as they shift into place.
Filling Cavities: What to Expect
You should expect to be at your dentist’s office for around an hour for this common procedure. This gives him or her enough time to take x-rays, discuss the procedure and complete the dental work. Before filling cavities, your dentist will numb your teeth, gums and surrounding skin to avoid and lessen discomfort during the procedure. The dentist will then drill out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a filling.
There are few risks associated with filling cavities, but always check back with the dentist office if you are feeling any discomfort or if you have any excessive bleeding.
The most common use of tooth fillings is to fill a cavity in the tooth. But tooth fillings also can be used to repair damage to teeth caused by teeth grinding (bruxism) or to replace part of a broken tooth.
Types of tooth fillings include gold, silver amalgam (a composite of mercury, silver, and other metals), tooth-colored composite material, porcelain, and a special type of glass. The best tooth fillings for you will depend on cost, what your insurance may cover, and your aesthetic preferences.
There is a wide variety of materials used for filling cavities and they vary in strength and color. The two most common types are amalgam and composite.
- Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam has been used by dental professionals for more than a century; it is the most researched material used for filling cavities. Amalgam fillings are strong and are therefore ideal for filling cavities in the back of the mouth such as in the molars, where chewing takes place. Since they are made of a combination of several metallic elements, amalgam fillings can be noticeable when you laugh or smile. These fillings are among the least expensive of all cavity-filling materials.
- Composite Fillings: Sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins, these fillings feature a combination of glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of your tooth. Composite fillings are also fairly durable and are ideal for small-to-mid-size restorations in areas of your mouth that perform moderate chewing.
- Metals: Gold or silver amalgam are the most common metals used for a cavity filling. Gold fillings can cost as much as 10 times more than silver amalgam fillings, but some people prefer the appearance of gold to silver fillings if they want the durability of metal vs. a less-durable composite material. Some people don’t like the appearance of metal fillings, but metal fillings can last as long as 10-15 years before they need to be replaced.
- Ceramic: A ceramic cavity filling (usually made of porcelain) is tooth-colored, and it may be less likely to show tooth stains over time than a composite cavity filling. But price is a factor—a ceramic filling can be nearly as expensive as a gold cavity filling.
- There are new filling techniques being researched all the time. New materials and procedures are used by different dental offices. Ask your West Los Angeles Dentistry professional for information on the latest techniques and products.
Tooth Extraction (Minor Surgery)
Reasons for Pulling Teeth
Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extraction is necessary. A very common reason involves a tooth that is too decayed or damaged to save or repair.
A dentist may need to extract a tooth in order to prepare the mouth for orthodontic work. The goal of orthodontia is to properly align the teeth, which may not be possible if your teeth are too big for your mouth. Likewise, if a tooth cannot break through the gum (erupt) because there is not room in the mouth for it, your dentist may recommend pulling it.
If tooth decay or damage extends to the pulp — the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels — bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp, leading to infection. Often this can be corrected with root canal therapy (RCT), but if the infection is so severe that antibiotics or RCT do not cure it, extraction may be needed to prevent the spread of infection.
Dentists and oral surgeons (dentists with special training to perform surgery) perform tooth extractions. Before pulling the tooth, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area.. In some instances, your dentist may use a strong general anesthetic. This may help you sleep through the procedure.
Deep Cleaning SCRP
Scaling and root planing, also known as conventional periodontal therapy, non-surgical periodontal therapy, or deep cleaning, is a procedure involving removal of dental plaque and calculus (scaling or debridement) and then smoothing, or planing, of the (exposed) surfaces of the roots.
The procedure helps to establish a periodontium that begins to heal any existing periodontal disease. Periodontal scalers and periodontal curettes are some of the tools involved in the procedure. Deep Cleaning is relatively painless but will leave the gum area sore and tender for several hours after the procedure. Call your West Lost Angeles Dentistry professional if you are feeling excessive discomfort or if you are bleeding from your gums.
Oral Hygiene Maintenance
Your dental hygienist will perform several procedures to promote good oral health, including education for oral hygiene at home. It is recommended that you visit your dentist or hygienist at least twice a year. Your West Los Angeles Dentistry hygienist will help you with:
- patient screening procedures; such as assessment of oral health conditions, review of the health history, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection, dental charting and taking blood pressure and pulse
- taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
- removing calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth
- applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g., sealants and fluorides)
- teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health;
(e.g., tooth brushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
- counseling patients about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
- making impressions of patients’ teeth for study casts (models of teeth used by dentists to evaluate patient treatment needs)
- performing documentation and office management activities
Your hygienist will have all your vital information for your dental health plan, when your dentist may not be available. Don’t be afraid to ask your hygienist those important questions, they are more than qualified to answer your questions.