The terms dental crown and cap are synonymous. If dental decay, cracked fillings, root canals, clenching or grinding the teeth have caused extensive damage to the underlying tooth structure a dental filling may not be a sufficient restoration. The only way to completely restore the cosmetic appearance and function of this tooth is often full coverage with a dental crown.
The good news is that a completed dental crown looks and feels like a natural tooth. In addition to restoring a single natural tooth, crowns can be used in other situations including being the supporting ends of dental bridge or covering dental implants. A crown may also be indicated when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance. Crowns can be made of metal, porcelain baked onto a metal substrate, porcelain, or a ceramic.
Dental fillings are the most common type of dental restoration used to replace sections of teeth that are missing, damaged or decayed. While traditional dental materials like gold, silver amalgam, and composite successfully restore teeth, recent advances in dental technology have made a wider and improved selection of restorative choices. Some of the newest state-of-the-art filling materials including ceramic and the latest composite materials are not only strong and durable, but also aesthetically pleasing and natural looking.
Whether from disease, malnutrition, genetic disorders, or an accident sometimes it is necessary for an individual to have some or all of their teeth extracted. While this can be devastating, partial or full dentures can be fabricated to restore an attractive smile, provide needed support for normal facial contours and reestablish a highly functional occlusion. A denture consists of natural looking artificial teeth set in a supportive base. It may be fabricated to replace either a small group of teeth, an entire upper arch, an entire lower arch, or both dental arches.
A complete denture refers to the replacement all of the teeth in a dental arch. It can be inserted in either of two ways. It can be inserted some weeks after the extraction sites and all of the surgical procedures have had a chance to heal or as an “immediate” denture placed the same day the last remaining teeth are extracted.
Although an immediate denture offers the advantage of not having to go without teeth for any period of time, it can require multiple adjustments as the tissues remodel and heal following dental extractions or other surgical procedures. In some situations where some sturdy teeth remain, partial dentures can be fabricated. Partial dentures can achieve adequate retention and stability by having clasps on the teeth surrounding the edentulous areas. In some cases added stability for the dentures can be provided by strategically placed implants.
Digital radiography utilizes computer technology and digital sensors for the acquisition, viewing, storage, and sharing of radiographic images. It offers several advantages over the older traditional film based methods of taking x-rays. The most significant of these advantages is that digital radiography reduces a patient’s exposure to radiation. Other benefits are that images can be viewed instantly after being taken and can be shared easily with other offices. Digital x-rays are also safer for the environment as they do not require any chemicals or paper to develop.
An electronic pad known as a sensor is used instead of film to acquire a digital image. It goes directly into the patient’s file on the computer. Once it is stored on the computer, it can be viewed easily on a screen, shared, or printed out.
Dental emergencies can come about in any number of ways. Your discomfort may be due to an injury to the oral facial area, the acute flare-up of a longstanding problem, or the result of the sudden onset of seemingly inexplicable pain. Whatever the case may be, urgent dental care is needed to provide you with relief and to avoid any further consequences to your oral health or function, as well as your overall well-being. There are many reasons to seek emergency dental care, including severe toothaches, chipped or fractured teeth, a dental abscess, impacted teeth, loose or broken fillings, lost or dislodged crowns, broken dentures and more. While the pain of a toothache is one of the more common reasons that patients come to our dental office for emergency dental care, we also promptly treat emergencies that are not necessarily painful, such as crowns that have been dislodged and broken dentures that leave embarrassing gaps in one’s smile. If your dental emergency is painful, if it affects the appearance of your smile, or if you suspect that an infection is present, contact our office immediately for care. We will make every effort to see you as promptly as possible.
Sometimes it is necessary to extract a tooth. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Extractions are commonly performed in cases where a deciduous “baby” tooth is reluctant to fall out, a severely broken down and non-restorable tooth is present, or “wisdom tooth” is poorly positioned and unable to fully erupt into place. To reduce any anxiety and insure patient comfort whenever a tooth extraction is necessary, the procedure, the post-surgical instructions, as well as any restorative follow-up care will be carefully and completely explained.
Teeth may be lost due to injury, dental decay, or gum disease. However, in order to avoid causing problems for the adjacent teeth and your overall dental health, it is usually important to replace teeth that have been lost. This can be done a number of ways including fixed bridges, removable partial or full dentures, or by dental implants. The dental implant is a small surgical fixture made of biocompatible metal or ceramic materials that is placed into the jawbone and functions in the same manner as the root of a tooth. In the same way that natural root supports the natural crown of your tooth, an implant once it fully integrates with the surrounding bone provides a stable and durable foundation for a replacement tooth. Implants often support a crown for an individual tooth, but can also be used as abutment teeth for a dental bridge, or strategically placed to help stabilize a denture.
Out of all of the restorative choices available today an implant comes the closest to replicating the look, feel and function of a natural tooth. Furthermore, it is the only method of tooth replacement that does not require the involvement or preparation of the adjacent teeth. A dental implant also stimulates bone remodeling to prevent shrinkage in areas where teeth are missing and helps to restore facial contours in areas where multiple teeth are missing.
Your first visit to our office is very important to establish your oral health baseline. We will begin by carefully reviewing your medical and dental histories and taking special note of all of your dental concerns, as well as any symptoms that you may be experiencing. This will be followed by a thorough clinical examination, including an oral cancer screening, periodontal evaluation, an analysis of your occlusion (bite) plus a thorough examination of your teeth, their supporting structures, and the complete orofacial area. Any needed diagnostic dental films will be taken at this time.
When the natural structure of a tooth has been extensively damaged or compromised due to dental decay, damaged fillings, root canals, or habitual clenching or grinding of the teeth, a dental filling may not be adequate for its repair. In such cases, dental crowns, also commonly referred to as caps, can be placed to effectively restore the natural integrity, function and appearance of the affected tooth.
Out of all of the materials that are available today for this type of full coverage restoration, metal-free crowns, also known as all ceramic crowns, offer most lifelike and biocompatible results. Strong and durable, ceramic crowns are lighter in weight than dental crowns that incorporate a metal substructure and are also kinder to the surrounding soft tissues. Furthermore, ceramic crowns present no problems for individuals with sensitivities to various metals. Since they are fabricated of the highest grade of dental ceramics, ceramic crowns most closely approximate the natural translucency of your own teeth. Custom modeled for the optimal health and aesthetic of a patient’s smile, ceramic crowns can also be indicated for an array of dental treatments, ranging from the cosmetic restoration of discolored teeth, to the coverage of a structurally damaged tooth, dental implant, or as the supporting ends of a dental bridge.
Skillful, gentle, compassionate care lessens general anxiety about going to the dentist or fears about a specific dental procedure for a less stressful and more comfortable experience. Nitrous oxide gas, which is administered though a small nasal mask, is available in our office. It is much safer than general anesthesia and intravenous sedation techniques and produces a state of relaxation that helps an apprehensive patient during dental procedures. When administered before local anesthetic gel and skillfully delivered traditional local anesthetic injections, it can make a visit easier for children or adults.
It is important to find oral cancer as early as possible when it can be treated more successfully. An oral cancer examination can detect early signs of cancer. The exam is painless and takes only a few minutes. Your regular dental check-up is an excellent opportunity to have the exam. During the exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will check your face, neck, lips, and entire mouth for signs of cancer.
At our office we take pride in creating and maintaining beautiful and healthy smiles for our younger patients in an environment that is lighthearted and fun. With an emphasis on establishing oral health habits that last a lifetime, our primary tools are education and a comprehensive preventive care program. As part of an effort to guard against childhood dental decay, we recommend periodic fluoride treatments and dental sealants placed on the biting surfaces of the back teeth.
Periodontal disease damages the surrounding soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. It is predominantly caused by the accumulation of bacteria, mucus and other particles in the form of plaque or tartar between the teeth and gums. Periodontal disease can range in severity from a simple gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, to a more serious inflammation of the periodontal tissues. Left untreated periodontal disease can result in significant tissue damage and eventual tooth loss.
The problem with periodontal disease is that often the progression is painless. As a result the affected individual may not be aware of an ongoing disease process. This is why it is so important to recognize signs of gingivitis, the earliest stage of periodontal disease. The symptoms of gingivitis typically include red, swollen and bleeding gums. Treatment instituted at this point is often sufficient to reverse the course of the disease and to avoid any permanent damage to the periodontal tissues. A series of deep dental cleanings, an improved home care regimen, and a commitment to regular maintenance may be all that is required to prevent this stage of periodontal disease from progressing.
Left untreated, gingivitis can escalate into periodontitis. However, there are other factors that can contribute to the escalation of periodontal disease, including smoking, genetic tendencies, and unchecked diabetes. In either case, when periodontal disease has progressed to a more advanced stage there is usually clinical and radiographic evidence of damage to the bone and soft tissues supporting the teeth. Periodontal treatment in this phase is designed to halt the progression of the disease and to restore tooth support as possible. This may involve medications to control the bacteria and reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and gums, gum surgery, or bone and tissue grafts.
Teeth that have been stained or darkened by food, tobacco use, age, medications or injury can be lightened and brightened by means of a non-invasive process known as teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening or bleaching simply refers to any process that will make the teeth appear whiter. While there are many over the counter options for teeth whitening, the most effective and safest teeth whitening systems are the professional strength ones available at the dentist’s office for use at home. The higher concentration of the whitening components placed in various types of trays, some of which are made in the office, and applied at home over a number of days are very effective. They whiten more gradually and gently than one-visit in-office systems that more often result in pain or sensitivity during or after use.
According to recent studies good oral hygiene is essential not only for your dental health, but also for your overall health and well-being. Our comprehensive dental hygiene program is designed to preserve your teeth and the supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental disease. To maintain your optimal oral health we recommend periodic professional dental cleanings. It is essential to remove disease-causing plaque and hard debris underneath the gum line or between the teeth which at home can either cannot be reached or cannot even be separated from the tooth. Of course a good home care regimen is necessary, so your current home care practices will be reviewed and individualized recommendations of oral hygiene techniques and devices made. Fluoride applications at the office and at home for children and adults and sealants, especially for children, have been shown to prevent dental disease.