General Dentistry is the area of dentistry you are most likely to be familiar with. If you have undergone a cleaning, cavity, a filling then this all falls into the category of general dentistry.
At Dental Solutions we’re here to help you to preserve your natural teeth as long as possible, ensure your oral health, and keep you looking and feeling great throughout life.
Oral health is an essential component of general health. In fact, medical research has revealed links between common oral infections and serious general health conditions including cardiovascular disease. It is therefore of the utmost importance to maintain the health of your teeth, gums, and other oral tissues.
This should start in childhood, so that health-promoting habits can develop early. Even toddlers can benefit from a trip to the dentist’s office to be examined for early signs of tooth decay and to become accustomed to the place where many important preventive services will be performed throughout childhood and beyond. Every stage of life caries with it particular oral health concerns, and your dentist is trained to address every one of them.
Modern dentistry offers a wide range of services to make sure your teeth stay healthy, function well and look great.
These procedures include:
Your dentist should be the first person you call if you have a dental emergency. Most dentists set aside time for emergency procedures. Be sure to keep your dentist’s after hours contact information readily available at all times.
Whether at home or traveling, the following tips can help you manage a dental emergency until you can get to the dentist. It is important to remember that with some dental emergencies, seeing a dentist within 30 minutes or less can mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth.
Is it a Dental Emergency?
Smoothing a chipped tooth, re-cementing a crown that is not causing pain and composite bonding to repair a tooth are not dental emergencies. Typically, such problems can be dealt with during your dentist’s regular office hours.
If you are not sure whether or not you are having a true dental emergency, answer the following questions:
- Are you in severe pain?
- Have you been hit in the face or mouth with resulting change in your bite, tooth loss and/or broken teeth?
- Do you have any swelling in the mouth or facial area?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be having a dental emergency and should call your dentist immediately. It’s important to describe to your dentist exactly what has happened and what you are feeling.
If you experience extreme pain caused by hot or warm foods or beverages, try drinking ice water. It might relieve the pain. Sip on ice water and hold some in your mouth until your pain is releived.
If you are having sensitivity to cold or if it causes pain to breathe in air, avoid cold foods and beverages. Breathe through your nose and call your dentist’s office.
If you experience pain in a tooth when biting down, it might indicate an abscess. This is an emergency and you should call your dentist’s office.
How to Avoid a Dental Emergency
Many dental emergencies can be easily avoided by having routine check ups with your dentist to ensure that your mouth and teeth are healthy, strong and free from decay.
Wearing a mouth guard during sports activities will help to prevent teeth from being chipped, knocked out or broken. Avoid chewing on ice and hard foods that may break or fracture your teeth. If you are planning to travel out of the country or leaving for an extended vacation, during which you may not have ready access to dental care, it is important to see your dentist for a routine check up before you leave.
Oral Exams & Dental Cleanings
Regular teeth cleanings & dental exams help prevent the build up of plaque on the teeth which can lead to problems with tooth decay and gum disease. Routine exams are recommended every 6 months, and may include other yearly exams like dental x-rays.
Our experienced dental hygienists professionally clean your teeth removing the buildup of plaque and tartar, while also polishing your teeth to prevent plaque buildup and giving you a fresh, beautiful smile.
Proper oral hygiene in between professional teeth cleanings should be conducted as well to prevent tooth decay and cavities. This can be done by proper brushing and flossing on a daily basis which removes up to 70% of plaque buildup.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth well.
Cavities and tooth decay are among the world’s most common health problems. They’re especially common in children, teenagers and older adults. But anyone who has teeth can get cavities, including infants.
If cavities aren’t treated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. They can lead to a severe toothache, infection and tooth loss. Regular dental visits and good brushing and flossing habits are your best protection against cavities and tooth decay.
The signs and symptoms of cavities vary, depending on their extent and location. When a cavity is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all. As the decay gets larger, it may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
- Tooth sensitivity
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
- Pain when you bite down
Oral Cancer Screening
Late detection of oral cancer is the primary reason that mortality rates are so dismal. As with most other cancers, age is is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Though tobacco use is a major predisposing risk factor, 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors.
Our practice continually strives to provide important enhancements in oral health care. We are concerned about oral cancer and look for it in all “at risk” patients. We have a screening tool that allows us to detect oral cancer earlier than ever before! This system allows the Dentist or Hygienist to visualize and identify oral mucosal abnormalities that may have otherwise been missed during a conventional oral cancer examination. It is the only medical device that the FDA has cleared for the identification of oral abnormalities in patients with an increased risk for oral cancer.
- Increased Risk: Patients age 18-39 with no lifestyle risk factors
- High Risk: Patients age 40 and older with no lifestyle risk factors OR Patients age 18-39 with lifestyle risk factors.
- Highest Risk: Patients age 65 and older with lifestyle risk factors or patients with a history of oral cancer.
Lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use (any type, any age, within 10 years)
- Alcohol consumption of at least 1 drink per day
- Immune deficiencies such as HIV & AIDS
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV 16/18)
Restorations / Fillings
Restorative dentistry refers to management and procedures that your dentist performs to keep your mouth healthy and functional.
Restorative dentistry is first and foremost concerned with keeping the mouth functioning as best it can and, in the process of doing so, can improve the overall look of one’s smile. This is what separates restorative dentistry from cosmetic dentistry — the latter is more concerned with aesthetics.
There are a variety of things that can go wrong in the mouth, which is why we always work hard to make sure that any possible issues are dealt with early on, or prevented altogether. The most common issues include cavities which are filled to prevent further decay and restoring broken teeth.
Tooth fillings, also known as dental fillings, are the restoration of the tooth using a hardened bonding material which “fills” the area of the tooth that was removed due to decay. Traditional fillings used a metal material (amalgam) or tooth colored fillings called composites (resin fillings).
Root Canal Treatment
To understand endodontic treatment otherwise known as a root canal, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp is a collection of blood vessels and nerves that helps to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, deep fillings, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures.
Signs and symptoms of the infection can be identified as swelling to the gum below a tooth, prolonged pain to hot and cold and inability to bite down on the tooth.
**See our endodontic section for further details**
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
If your dentist suspects that you have bruxism (Tooth Grinding), he may determine its cause by asking questions about your general dental health, medications, daily routines and sleep habits.
To evaluate the extent of bruxism, your dentist may check for:
- Tenderness in your jaw muscles
- Obvious dental abnormalities, such as broken or missing teeth
- Other damage to your teeth, the underlying bone and the inside of your cheeks, usually with the help of X-rays
A dental exam may detect other disorders that can cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, other dental problems or health conditions.
In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism without treatment, and many adults don’t grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications to prevent more tooth damage and relieve jaw pain or discomfort.
Talk with your dentist or doctor to find out which option may work best for you.
When assessed and treated by the dentist, Oral Appliance Therapy will help to improve snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Oral Appliance Therapy favorably positions the tongue and mandible to keep the airway open during sleep and therefore encourages sufficient oxygen delivery throughout your body.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy:
- Oral Appliances can be comfortable and easy to wear
- Oral Appliances are small and convenient, ,making them easy to carry when traveling
- Treatment is non-invasive
- Proven effective in the treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
How Oral Appliance Therapy Works:
- Optimally positions the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
- Stabilizes the lower jaw and tongue
- Increases the muscle tone of the tongue
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy:
- Non-invasive treatment for snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Significantly improves sleep apnea symptoms including oxygen saturation and daytime fatigue
- Higher compliance rates than CPAP therapy
Dental sealants are a dental treatment intended to prevent tooth decay. Teeth have recesses on their biting surfaces; the back teeth have fissures (grooves) and some front teeth have cingulum pits. It is these pits and fissures which are most vulnerable to tooth decay because food and bacteria stick in them and because they are hard-to-clean areas.
Dental sealants are materials placed in these pits and fissures to fill them in, creating a smooth surface which is easy to clean; mainly used in children who are at higher risk of tooth decay, and are usually placed as soon as the adult molar teeth come through.
Periodontal Disease & Gingivitis
What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes periodontitis (gum disease). However, it is important to know that not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.
In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque build up, causing the gums to become inflamed and to easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. No irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.
Risk Factors For Periodontal Disease
- Poor dental hygiene
- Poorly contoured fillings or crowns
- Poor nutrition
- Chewing tobacco
- High levels of stress
- Downs Syndrome
- Taking certain medications: steroids, oral contraceptives and blood pressure medications
- Genetics: children of parents with periodontitis are 12 times more likely to have the bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease
Warning Signs & Symptoms Of Periodontal Disease
The existence of bone destruction under the gums cannot be visually detected. This makes it especially important to visit your dentist regularly.
Some early warning signs include:
- Bleeding gums
- Red, tender puffy or swollen gums
- Pain or tenderness in the gums
- Itchy sensation
- Teeth that are loose or shifting
- Tooth sensitivity
- Constant bad breath or taste
- Changes in your bite
- Changes in the fit of your oral appliance
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
- Good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly can stop the disease progression
- Eating a balanced diet to supply nutrients for good health
- Proper use of a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash
- Drinking at least seven glasses of water per day to increase saliva in the mouth
An evaluation is done using a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the space between the teeth and gums and x-rays are taken to see whether the bone is damaged. Depending on the diseases progression, the following treatments are used:
- More frequent cleaning interval
- Scaling is done to scrape off tartar and plaque from the tooth’s crowns and roots
- Root planing is done to smooth rough surfaces of the root and allow the gums to heal
- Surgery may be needed in certain cases to properly treat the disease
Early detection is important in the treatment of periodontal disease. In addition, you keep dental costs down by preventing further destruction. If you have any questions on periodontal disease, its progression and treatment, please book an assement with Dental Solutions.
When to Visit the Dentist
Many people only go to the dentist when something is wrong. That is truly a shame, because they are missing out on so many preventive services that can save discomfort — and expense — down the road. Regular dental visits are essential to make sure oral health problems — from tooth decay to oral cancer — are detected and treated in a timely manner. Some individuals may need to see the dentist more often than others to stay on top of problems like plaque buildup and gum disease, but everyone should go at least once per year.
Your regular dental visits will include a thorough oral exam to check the health of your teeth and gums; and oral cancer screening to spot any suspicious signs early; and a professional cleaning to remove stubborn deposits and make your teeth look and feel great. So don’t miss out on the many benefits general dentistry offers you and your family!