In addition to oral care at home, you should see your dentist every six months for an oral exam to ensure continued health of your teeth and gums. If you skip just one routine checkup with your dentist, any new oral health issues can rapidly advance and require expensive and invasive treatments. Regular checkups ensure that problems can be caught early and treated conservatively, and some oral health issues can even be reversed if spotted in the earliest stages. If allowed to advance, however, these problems with your teeth or gums can actually spread beyond your mouth and affect your general health.
Your oral health depends on two factors: your willingness to brush and floss regularly and your commitment to seeing your dentist every six months for an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning. Even the most diligent patients can miss hard-to-reach areas of the mouth and leave themselves vulnerable to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Your six-month oral exam will ensure that your dentist spots any problems early in their development, but professional teeth cleaning may prevent those oral health issues, the most devastating of which is periodontal disease, all together.
Dental X-rays use controlled pulses of radiation to create images of the internal structures of the jaw and mouth. Dental X-rays are useful for viewing jawbones and various tooth structures. They can find and image cavities, bone or gum loss, periodontal disease, benign or malignant tumors, and other normal or abnormal structures within the lower portion of the head. In children and adolescents, they are also useful for finding un-erupted permanent teeth and imaging root structures in preparation for orthodontic work.
Dental fillings replace parts of a tooth that has been damaged due to injury or decay. Also known as dental restoration, a filling preserves the integrity of the tooth and prevents further damage from cavities. Fillings can also restore the chewing surfaces of teeth that have become worn. Avoiding damage from decay or injury is preferable, but fillings are a good way to prevent the eventual loss of a tooth. Most cavities and fractures that are caught early are good candidates for restoration with fillings.
Dental crowns, also called caps, fit over worn or damaged teeth. They can also serve a cosmetic purpose, restoring a discolored tooth to its former hue. Your dentist may fit you with a temporary crown to protect a damaged tooth while the permanent crown is being made. Depending on the material used to make them, the wear they get and the care they receive, permanent crowns last about 5 to 15 years.
A dental bridge spans the gap where a missing tooth once was, filling the space with a synthetic tooth. Like a bridge over a river, most dental bridges need support at either end, although cantilever bridges are an exception. Fitting a bridge requires reshaping the abutment teeth and capping them with crowns to hold the bridge securely.
Everyone wants a white, healthy smile. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Stains and discolorations are all-too-common dental problems, which explains why teeth whitening is such a popular procedure. Regular oral exams and cleanings can ward off the majority of stains, but some things are beyond your control. The simple act of aging can produce stains, and various environmental and lifestyle factors can too. The good news is that most stains can be resolved through safe, effective teeth whitening procedures.
Dental bonding is a great way to quickly and affordably repair small imperfections on teeth. In a way, bonding is like a simplified version of a veneer or a crown. While it can’t withstand the kind of abuse that those solutions can, bonding works well in a variety of situations.
Like many people, your teeth may develop cosmetic problems despite your best efforts. Even if you are diligent about maintaining excellent oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and oral exams, issues may arise. Whether you chip a tooth while playing sports or start to notice discoloration, which can occur naturally with age, you have plenty of options. Bonding is among the simplest and most cost-effective of them.
Through modern dentistry, there are a variety of ways to improve the appearance of your teeth. Regular dental care, including good oral hygiene and routine oral exams and cleanings, go a long way toward keeping teeth in tip-top shape. However, some things are beyond your control, and you may still be unsatisfied with the way your teeth look. Whether they are chipped, stained, irregularly shaped or have other cosmetic flaws, dental veneers may be the answer.
While many people will have no trouble with their wisdom teeth, these teeth are often removed to prevent more serious issues like an abscess. These teeth generally begin to surface in the late teens to early 20s, and many times, they become impacted as they develop, growing sideways into the other teeth or angled forward.
Wisdom teeth may erupt from the gumline or may still be set in the jaw. Teeth that are only partially erupted may present other issues as these teeth are difficult to clean and care for. Extractions are typically handled by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon on an outpatient basis. Most extractions are done as a preventative measure to safeguard against changes in the alignment of the teeth during orthodontics or more serious complications.
A root canal, also called endodontic therapy, treats teeth that have become severely damaged, allowing the nerves and soft inner pulp of the tooth to become infected. Your dentist may also recommend a root canal if a tooth has become so damaged or decayed that future infection appears inevitable. Root canals have a reputation for being painful, but modern endodontic techniques and anesthetics make the procedure no more uncomfortable than having a tooth filled. After completing the root canal, the tooth will also need a crown or filling to complete the restoration.
Dentures are a type of prosthesis used to accommodate missing teeth. These devices are typically removable, but some are bonded or implanted. When all teeth are absent, complete dentures are used. When only some teeth are missing, partial dentures are used. Dentures may be for the maxillary arch, mandibular arch or both.
Gum disease is an infection of the periodontal tissues that provide support for the teeth. These tissues include the gums, periodontal ligaments and the jawbone. Also called periodontal disease, this condition begins with bacteria-ridden plaque irritating the gum tissues. If this plaque is not removed with thorough brushing and flossing, it will turn into a hard substance called tartar. Once this happens, you can no longer sufficiently clean your teeth on your own because tartar must be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist with a special instrument. If tartar is allowed to build up around the gumline, it will break the healthy attachment between the gums and the teeth, allowing bacteria and plaque to collect under the gums and along the tooth roots. These openings at the gumline are called periodontal pockets, and once they form, you run the risk of losing your teeth if you do not seek treatment from your dentist, dental hygienist or periodontist.