General services include cleanings, fillings, and extractions. Of these, regular professional cleanings, coupled with a patient's good daily oral hygiene, will help prevent the need for additional, more costly, services.
You should schedule a routine dental cleaning twice a year, more frequently if you have gum disease. During this visit, a dental hygienist will remove plaque from your teeth, especially from places where your brush can’t reach, such as underneath the gum line and between teeth. Your teeth will be completely cleaned and flossed.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water and brushing and flossing regularly ensures a significantly lower rate of cavities. We normally apply fluoride to our young patients, and may do so for our adult patients who are cavity-prone.
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 bacteria reacts with food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Studies have shown that the vast majority of cavities in American school children are caused this way. 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 applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars, and other areas prone to cavities. An application can last several years, and will be checked during office visits.
Fillings replace missing tooth structure that has been damaged by decay or fracture. Fillings are vital in maintaining dental health, and are necessary to stop the decay process and prevent a tooth from sustaining further damage. Fillings are made of very durable materials, but eventually succumb to the natural wear and tear of every day use, and need to be replaced. As part of your routine dental exam and hygiene visit, we will check your fillings and evaluate whether they need to be replaced.
There are two basic filling materials for restoring cavities in teeth: amalgam, the silver-colored fillings that have been available for many years, and composites, which are relatively newer. The composite material is tooth-colored resin that is bonded into the prepared tooth. It is best for use in no stress areas such as front teeth. The only advantage of a composite is that it looks much more like tooth structure, and is practically unnoticeable. The main disadvantage of composite material is its lack of strength. Composites do not hold up well under compression stress (biting force). The overall failure rate for composites is much higher than amalgam. Failures include fracture of the filling, leakage, pain, and the need for further, more complex and expensive treatment.
Amalgam fillings are much stronger than composite and last much longer, about 3-4 times longer. The only disadvantage of the amalgam is that it is noticeable. Some patients fear the use of amalgam due to the fact that there is mercury in the compound. Mercury, by itself, is indeed dangerous if ingested. However, in amalgam, the mercury is completely bound into the compound. The only way to free the mercury from the compound is to apply heat until the amalgam melts, which requires extremely high temperatures (hundreds of degrees or more), much hotter than any food a patient would ever be able to eat. Amalgam is a safe material to use for restoring teeth.
Dr. Khani recommends using amalgam to restore teeth where the filling site is not particularly visible. Again, the amalgam filling can be expected to last longer and will be less expensive than composite material. If you have a strong preference for composite over amalgam, please let us know.
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.
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, an non-erupted wisdom tooth can become inflamed under the gums and in the jawbone, causing a sac to develop around the root, which 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 situation, an extraction of one or more of the wisdom teeth may be advised. If the wisdom teeth are severely impacted, our office may refer you to an oral surgeon.