Prevention helps avoid serious and potentially costly dental work and is the key to having a healthy, confident smile. A good preventive program involves you, your dentist and hygienist. In addition to the thorough cleaning, polishing and examination you receive at your regular hygiene appointments we will help you develop proper oral hygiene habits at home.
Even with modern advancements in oral health and patient awareness, teeth are still susceptible to decay, infection, and breakage and sometimes need to be restored back to health. Georgia Dental has a number of options for restoring a tooth back to its normal shape, appearance and function. We will always discuss with you all of your available options and recommend what we believe is the best treatment based on your individual needs and desires.
Hygiene Cleanings and Exams
Your initial visit will involve a comprehensive dental examination which evaluates your overall dental health. At regular check-ups your dentist and hygienist will do the following:
- Examination of X-Rays – Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss as well as checking the position of teeth and roots.
- Oral Cancer Screening – checking the face, neck and oral tissue for unusual lumps or patches. A VELscope screening can also be done.
- Examination of Tooth Decay – checking all teeth for any erosion of tooth structure.
- Examination of Existing Dental Work – checking the status of all restorations such as fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers.
Professional Dental Hygiene Cleanings:
Hygiene cleanings are performed by our Registered Dental Hygienists and may include the following:
- Removal of plaque – Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers the teeth. This bacteria releases acids that cause the tooth enamel to break down. Without regular removal by brushing and flossing, buildup of plaque can lead to calculus and then to periodontal disease.
- Removal of calculus (tartar) – Calculus is a form of hardened dental plaque that has been left on the tooth for too long and is now firmly attached to the surface. Calculus can only be removed with special dental instruments.
- Polishing – Removal of stains and plaque that have built up on the teeth.
- Fluoride – Short rinse of fluoride that will strengthen the tooth enamel and aid in the prevention of tooth decay.
- Oral Hygiene Instruction and Education – Personalized information to help develop better oral hygiene skills and prevent cavities and/or periodontal disease. This may involve the use of an intra-oral camera to view your teeth and gums.
- Periodontal Screening – small dental probe is used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the teeth and gums. Healthy sulcus measures 3 mm or less and does not bleed. If the sulcus is greater than this the hygienist may diagnose gingivitis or periodontitis.
X-Rays, also called radiographs, are among the most valuable tools the dentist and hygienist has to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. It allows these dental professionals to detect problems that would otherwise not be seen and then use this information to develop an accurate treatment plan. This can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.
Digital X-rays use an electronic sensor instead of film to capture the images and store them on computer. The image can be viewed instantly and enlarged so that potential problems are detected more easily. As well, the technology reduces radiation by about 80% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays. X-rays can reveal:
- Infections in the bone
- Periodontal disease
- Cancerous or non-cancerous tumours
- Bone loss
- Small areas of decay between teeth and existing restorations
- Abscesses or cysts
- Developmental abnormalities
- Tooth positioning
CariVu Detection Camera
CariVu Detection Camera is a detection device that uses patented trans-illumination technology to support the identification of cracks and tooth decay.
By hugging the tooth and bathing it in safe, near-infrared light the CariVu makes the enamel appear transparent while porous lesions trap and absorb the light. This unique caries detector allows the clinician to see through the tooth exposing its structure and the actual structure of any carious lesions with very high accuracy.
The CariVu uses non-ionizing radiation which is ideal for children, pregnant women and patients who are X-ray averse.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. Gums may be red and bleed a little when you brush, but otherwise you may not notice anything. At this point, the gum disease can be reversed with proper dental care and modification of your home routine. However, if not treated, the gingivitis can get worse and you might start to notice bleeding from your gums when eating harder foods.
As gingivitis progresses, an infection develops where the gum is attached to the teeth. You may see puffy gums, traces of blood on your toothbrush, or a change of colour in your gums. Even with these symptoms, you still might not experience any pain in your mouth.
If not treated, over time gingivitis can lead to the breakdown of your gum, bone, and other tissues that are holding your teeth in place.
The treatment we provide will depend upon the type and severity of the gum disease. If caught in the early stages, 1 or 2 hygiene cleanings and further home care instruction will generally be the recommended treatment. If the disease has progressed to advanced stages, then deep cleaning through scaling, irrigation and root planing will be required. Calculus and plaque are removed from above and below the gum line allowing the gums to heal. To control the infection and help with healing, medications and mouth rinses may also be recommended.
If this treatment does not heal the gums, periodontal surgery and/or referral to a periodontist may be recommended.
VELscope Oral Cancer Screening
The VELscope is a tool to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. The VELscope examination is a non-invasive, painless procedure which takes only a few minutes. The system utilizes a narrow band of safe, high-energy blue light and specialized filtering technology to help thoroughly evaluate the oral tissue for abnormal areas of concern, such as potentially cancerous lesions that may not be evident under white light. This technology may allow us to see things we may be unable to view in cancer screening during regular exams. It may assist us in detecting disease at earlier stages. If detected early, oral cancer is 80 to 90% survivable.
It is important for your oral health to have your teeth properly align when you bite. If not aligned, pressure on the teeth can lead to fractures in the enamel, to muscle pain & spasm and to grinding.
Equilibration is the process of adjusting your bite by reshaping the surfaces of your teeth. The first step involves locating the stable position of the jaw joints. A bite registration is then taken to record this position for reference. Secondly, impressions of the teeth are made so that the dentist may use the casts to make adjustments and determine the optimal amount positioning of the teeth to achieve a balanced bite. Finally, using the casts as a guide, adjustments are made to the teeth.
A nightguard is a plastic shield used at night to protect the teeth from wear due to jaw clenching and grinding of the teeth. This is a common condition which affects both adults and children. Symptoms include excessive tooth wear, headaches, jaw and ear pain (most noticeably first thing after waking) and damage to the jaw joint. A nightguard is worn either over the lower or upper teeth and creates a shield between the teeth to prevent clenching, grinding and tooth wear.
We take an impression of your teeth and a nightguard is created that customs fits your teeth. Over the counter nightguards or mouthguards are not recommended for night wear because they are not as effective and may create discomfort.
It is important to wear the nightguard every night to reduce problems associated with grinding and clenching. Some patients may eventually stop over time. Maintenance of the nightguard is simply brushing and rinsing after each use.
A mouthguard (or sportguard) is a device that is used during the day to aid in the prevention of injury to the teeth, lips, tongue and gums during physical activity. While the number of mouth injuries caused by sports activities is relatively low, the cost of these injuries is relatively high, especially if there is damage to the teeth. Depending on the type and extent of injury, a single blow to the mouth may result in months or even years of treatment. When you are hit in the mouth or jaw, a mouthguard acts as a cushion that redistributes the force of the blow, so the impact is absorbed more evenly. They even help reduce the chance of concussion from a severe blow.
As with nightguards, we will take an impression of your teeth and create a custom-fitting appliance.
Wisdom Teeth Extractions
Wisdom teeth are the molars in the far back of your mouth and usually emerge in late teens or early twenties. In the past, they were useful for our more basic diet of meat and hard foods, but now they serve little purpose.
There are several reasons for the removal of wisdom teeth:
- Disease – they are more susceptible to decay and infection as they are often difficult to reach for regular daily dental care
- Impacted wisdom teeth – this means that the teeth are not coming in normally or remain trapped in the gums or jawbone. The end result of impacted wisdom teeth can be bone damage or even a serious infection.
- Arch is too small to accommodate – the wisdom teeth come in at the wrong angle or only partially erupt. This can cause discomfort and/or infection
- Wisdom teeth can also become broken. This might be because your wisdom tooth is impacted and has not emerged through the jaw bone, or because it is broken into pieces and can’t be removed without leaving a piece behind.
In these instances your dentist will examine the tooth, and most likely take x-rays, to determine whether an extraction is necessary. X-rays will also show whether a standard or surgical extraction is required.
The tooth and surrounding tissue is numbed using local anaesthetic injected into the gums. Some patients that are particularly anxious about the procedure may also receive some form of sedation.
Once the local anaesthetic has taken full effect, your dentist will use specialist tools to loosen the connective tissue surrounding the tooth. Another set of dental tools are then used to actually remove the tooth. You may feel a lot of pressure at this point, but the anaesthetic will ensure you feel no pain. Your dentist may decide that stitches will improve healing. The stitches are dissolvable and shouldn’t create any additional discomfort. Patients will receive a set of care instructions and a post-operative appointment to follow up.
Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements that provide a simple solution with proven results for tooth loss. No other restorative option is as functionally effective and durable. Dental implants replace missing tooth roots, helping to preserve the bone in the jaw and the original shape of the face.
We have a page devoted to helping you learn more about dental implants. Learn More About Dental Implants.
Composite fillings are a tooth-coloured mixture used to fill and repair cracks, decay, fractures etc. They may also be used for cosmetic improvements to change the colour or shape of the teeth. Because composite fillings are tooth-coloured they are more aesthetically pleasing than other types of materials such as silver amalgam.
Composite fillings are very durable and, if the teeth are properly cared for, will last many years.
Inlays/Onlays (Partial Crowns)
Inlays and onlays are restorations that can be utilized when there remains a healthy enamel portion of the tooth. Inlays are used when there is no damage to the cusps of the tooth and it is placed within these cusps. It is wider than a regular filling. An onlay is used when there is more extensive damage to the area and the restoration is placed over at least one of the cusps.
Inlays and onlays are custom-made and generally require 2 visits. The dentist will remove any decay, prepare the tooth and take an impression that will be sent to a professional laboratory for fabrication. You will be given a temporary restoration that will look and function naturally while the permanent one is being made. When completed the permanent restoration will be inserted and a proper fit will be ensured before it is cemented leaving you with the most natural and beautifully restored smile. Inlays and onlays are very durable and, if the teeth are properly cared for, will last many years.
Inlays are used for the same reasons as composite fillings and are the recommended treatment if the filling size is very large.
Inlays can be are made with composite, porcelain or gold. Together we can determine which option best suits your needs. An inlay is an ideal alternative to a filling as the materials used are stronger and more durable therefore lasting longer.
An onlay is sometimes referred to as a partial crown. It is an ideal alternative to a crown because it is more conservative as less natural tooth structure has to be removed in the preparation process. In many cases the CEREC one-appointment crown is a great alternative and can save you time.
Crowns (or caps) are onlays that completely cover all surfaces of the tooth. They look and function just like natural teeth while protecting what remains of the natural tooth structure. A crown is recommended if the tooth has enough decay that it cannot hold a filling/inlay or if the tooth is cracked or broken and in danger of damaging the root if left unattended. They may also be recommended for cosmetic enhancements.
Crowns can be made from:
- Porcelain fused to metal or gold; or
Together we can determine what material option best suits your needs. Porcelain crowns are generally the preferred option as they most resemble your natural teeth. The crown will be made to match the shape, size and colour of your other teeth.
Crowns are custom-made and generally require 2 visits. The dentist will remove any decay, prepare the tooth and take an impression that will be sent to a professional laboratory for fabrication. You will be given a temporary restoration that will look and function naturally while the permanent one is being made. When completed the permanent restoration will be inserted and a proper fit will be ensured before it is cemented leaving you with the most natural and beautifully restored smile.
In many cases the CEREC one-appointment crown is a great option and can save you time.
Crowns are very durable and, if the teeth are properly cared for, will last many years.
CEREC One Appointment Crowns and Inlays
CEREC by Sirona Dental Systems is the world’s first system for the fabrication of all ceramic dental restorations in one office visit. You can be in and out in a single visit with a permanent, all ceramic crown or inlay. This means fewer injections, less drilling, no need for temporary crowns and less time out of your busy schedule for dental care.
With CEREC, we can use strong, tooth coloured ceramic materials to restore your teeth to their natural strength, beauty, and function. These materials closely match the composition of natural tooth structure. This means when you eat hot food and then drink something cold, the restoration and tooth expand and contract at almost equal rates, so your tooth does not crack. Also, the materials are chemically bonded to your tooth, so we can save as much healthy tooth tissue as possible while providing you with a dental restoration that strengthens your tooth.
A bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance that is used replace a missing tooth by joining to adjacent teeth. It is important to address tooth loss as it can affect the way someone speaks, eats, jaw function and the alignment of the remaining teeth. The most popular or traditional type of bridge uses porcelain fused to metal or ceramics and consists of two crowns that fit over the anchoring adjacent teeth with an artificial tooth (or teeth) attached in the centre.
Bridges usually require at least 2 or more visits. In the initial visit, the adjacent teeth will be prepared by removing enamel to allow the crown to fit comfortably. An impression of the area is then taken and sent to a lab for custom design of your restoration. In the meantime you will receive a temporary restoration that will allow you normal bite and function while looking natural. On your second visit your final restoration will be placed and proper fit and function will be ensured.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function. This allows us to keep the tooth structure as opposed to removing the tooth entirely.
There are two types of dentures – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. A Partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from shifting.
Partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. The dentures are removable and attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or precision attachments. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments.
Dentures are very durable appliances and will last many years, but may have to be remade, repaired, or readjusted due to normal wear and bone atrophy.
If you require a full denture we will be happy to refer you to a trusted denturist.