Dental restorations can range from relatively small fillings to extensive work that requires restructuring of the tooth, root canal treatment, or dental crowns. If a tooth has been severely damaged, a crown might be necessary to keep it intact and prevent eventual removal.
Types of Tooth Restorations
Your dentist must perform a tooth restoration if your tooth has been damaged or has experienced decay. Small to medium cavities can be restored with fillings, in which the decayed portion of the tooth is removed and replaced with dental amalgam or with a tooth-colored resin. However, if the cavity is extremely large, or if you experience additional decay in a tooth that has already been filled, a crown might be necessary.
Very severe cavities, cracks in the teeth, or broken-off teeth might require a root canal treatment. This procedure is necessary if the tooth’s interior becomes infected. A dentist or endodontist removes the infected tissue from inside the tooth, then fills it and fits the tooth with a dental crown.
Common Uses of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns were once used routinely for cosmetic purposes, but now your dentist is more likely to recommend dental veneers for purely aesthetic treatment. Crowns are more invasive than veneers, and so are usually reserved for restorations. In order to place a crown, the underlying tooth must be reshaped to fit inside it, which usually involves removing a substantial amount of the enamel and dentin. The crown is custom-made to fit your tooth and to complement your bite, and is permanently fixed in place with special cement.
In general, your dentist will recommend dental crowns if:
- Your tooth is cracked
- Your tooth has broken off
- Your tooth has been treated with root canal therapy
- Your tooth is severely decayed
- You are suffering from decay in a tooth that has already been filled
Dental crowns can be constructed of metal, tooth-colored resins, porcelain, or metal bound with porcelain. Talk to your dentist about what type of crown is best for your particular restoration.
If your gums bleed when you brush, this could be a symptom of gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Gingivitis is easily treated, so if you let your dentist know as soon as possible, you can prevent it from developing into more serious forms of periodontitis, which could require deep cleaning or even gum surgery.
Causes and Symptoms of Gum Disease
A wide variety of bacteria naturally lives in your mouth. These bacteria can build up if you do not practice good oral hygiene. Sugary drinks and sticky foods cling to the teeth, providing nutrients for these bacteria. As they multiply, they can cause inflammation in the gum tissue, causing the gums to draw back from the tooth roots. Your dentist evaluates the condition of your gums during regular visits by measuring the pockets around your teeth.
Some symptoms to watch out for that could indicate gum disease include:
- Swelling or redness in the gums
- A shiny or purple look to the gums
- Pus or pimple-like growths
- Extreme sensitivity
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
Bleeding when you brush is one of the earliest symptoms of gingivitis. If you do notice your gums bleeding, be sure to mention this to your dentist.
Treatment for Gum Disease
The main way to deal with gum disease is through prevention. Maintaining good oral health means regular dental hygiene and twice-yearly visits to the dentist. If your dentist does diagnose gingivitis or gum disease, you might require treatment.
Treatment for gum disease can include:
- Antibacterial toothpaste or mouthwash
- Deep cleaning techniques such as planing and scaling
- Gum surgery
- Gum grafting
The more serious your gum disease is, the more invasive your treatment will be. Very serious gum disease requires gum grafting, in which infected gum tissue is removed and replaced with tissue from the roof of your mouth. Shoring up the gumline in this way provides the necessary support and foundation for your tooth roots, and can prevent long-term tooth loss.
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Dental crowns are commonly used for restorations in teeth that have been broken off, heavily decayed, or that have undergone root canal therapy. They are strong enough to stand up to everyday wear and tear and the pressures of biting and chewing. The materials used to make crowns don’t generally require any additional care beyond everyday brushing and flossing and regular visits to your dentist.
Caring for Your Dental Crown
Most dental crowns don’t require special care. However, depending upon what the crown is made of, you might need to take some minor precautions to avoid damaging or staining it.
Crowns are generally made of:
- Metal, usually gold or stainless steel
- Metal bonded with porcelain
- Tooth-colored resins
Metal crowns are more commonly used for back teeth (molars) because they are stronger and less likely to chip under the regular stress of chewing. They are also less aesthetically pleasing on front teeth than crowns made of tooth-colored materials. Metal bonded with porcelain is also a popular choice for back teeth, combining the advantages of metal with those of porcelain.
Porcelain crowns are more susceptible to chipping or breaks. If you have porcelain crowns, whether they are on front or back teeth, you should avoid biting down on hard objects of any kind. Be sure to brush and floss regularly. If you have difficulty flossing between teeth that have been crowned, ask your dentist for solutions to prevent gum disease from developing between these teeth.
Having a Tooth Crowned
Crowns are typically placed in a two-step process. First, your dentist takes a mold of your tooth, then he reshapes the tooth to make room for the crown. A temporary crown is affixed to protect your tooth while the permanent crown is constructed. When the crown is ready, you’ll return to the dentist to have it set into place permanently. Your tooth and the jaw around it might be sore for a short time after treatment, but overall having a tooth crowned is a straightforward procedure.
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Dental crowns are used to restore teeth that have been severely damaged by decay or trauma, or which have been treated with root canal therapy. The crown keeps the tooth intact and functional. Porcelain crowns are used when you prefer a more natural-looking restoration, such as for front teeth.
Uses for Porcelain Crowns
Dental crowns are generally used for restorations, though in the past they have also been used for cosmetic reasons. If your tooth has been seriously damaged due to decay, or if it has cracked as a result of trauma or because it’s been treated with large fillings, a crown is often the best choice for restoration. In most cases, a tooth that’s been treated with a root canal is fitted with a crown to keep it strong and usable.
Porcelain crowns are made in an off-site laboratory to exactly match the shape and color of the tooth being treated. After the decay is removed, your family dentist will place a temporary crown to protect your tooth. The permanent crown should be ready in a few days, at which time you’ll return to the dentist to have it set in place with a strong adhesive.
Choosing a Dental Crown
The type of crown you choose depends upon your preferences, the preferences of your dentist, and which tooth is being treated. Crowns can be made of metal, as well, and this is still a common choice, especially for back teeth. Porcelain crowns are used for aesthetic reasons, for example when front teeth must be restored. Other options include metal bonded with porcelain, which adds strength while maintaining a natural appearance.
If your tooth has been broken off, it can be restored with a crown, but you might require preliminary treatment to expose part of the tooth root so the crown has a solid foundation. A crown lengthening procedure is usually used to provide this foundation. If you require this type of preparation, you’ll have to wait for your gums to heal before your crown can be put in place.
If you have more questions, call our office where a caring team member is ready to speak to you!
Whitening toothpastes are a popular option for everyday teeth whitening. If you have mild surface stains on your teeth, brushing with one of these specially formulated toothpastes can help reduce or remove them. Whitening toothpaste can also help you maintain the results of a professional whitening procedure.
How Do Whitening Toothpastes Work?
Most whitening toothpastes contain baking soda, which acts as a mild abrasive to remove stains from the tooth surfaces. Some also contain peroxide, which is a bleaching agent. Peroxide is the main ingredient in professional teeth whitening agents used by your dentist. Using a whitening toothpaste in your everyday hygiene can help prevent or remove staining that occurs due to exposure to staining agents like coffee, tea, or nicotine.
If your staining is severe, however, you’ll need to see your dentist for the best results. Your dentist can use professional-strength whitening agents to lighten your teeth five to ten shades in a single, one-hour appointment. If your teeth still don’t respond to treatment, you might need to use a take-home kit supplied by your dentist. Very severe staining or intrinsic staining will require veneers to return your teeth to their natural color.
Are There Side Effects to Whitening Toothpastes?
In general, whitening toothpastes—and whitening treatment in general—are extremely safe and produce little to no side effects. You might experience a slight increase in sensitivity, since whitening treatment opens the pores in the teeth, making it easier for sensation to pass through the hard enamel and into the more sensitive pulp. This is more common with whitening treatments than with toothpastes. If you experience increased sensitivity, switch to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth or talk to your dentist about treatment options.
Because whitening toothpastes are slightly abrasive, you should ask your dentist before using them if you have particularly sensitive enamel. Some people have very soft enamel that can be easily damaged even with a soft toothbrush. For these people, whitening toothpaste might not be recommended.
Contact our team at Bliss Dental to discuss your own treatment.
Wisdom teeth removal is very common because most people don’t have enough room in their mouths to accommodate four more large molars. It’s important to take good care of your mouth after removal to avoid uncomfortable side effects like infection or dry socket.
What is Dry Socket?
When a tooth is removed, it leaves behind an empty socket. This leaves nerves and bone tissue unprotected and vulnerable to infection. To protect the socket, a blood clot develops that fills the empty space where the tooth root used to be. Dry socket occurs when this clot become dislodged. Your oral surgeon will provide you with instructions on how to prevent this from happening, including:
- Eat only soft foods for a few days
- Avoid using a straw
- Don’t brush the area where the tooth was removed
- Rinse carefully with warm salt water to prevent infection
- Avoid smoking
If you experience any unusual symptoms after your tooth extraction, be sure to talk to your dentist. Symptoms that you may have developed dry socket include:
- The empty space where the tooth was looks white instead of dark red
- Persistent discomfort that can radiate into the jaw and ear
- A bad taste in the mouth or persistent bad breath
If left untreated, dry socket can develop into severe infection, so if you notice any symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Treatment for Dry Socket
If you have developed dry socket, your dentist or oral surgeon will treat it by cleaning the area and placing a special paste or a medicated dressing in the socket to help it heal. You’ll probably have to make frequent visits to the dentist to have the dressing changed over the next few days, until healing sets in. You may also receive a prescription for antibiotics, and you might need to use a prescription mouthwash.
Once the socket has healed sufficiently, the bone and nerves will be protected by the new gum tissue that fills in the hole where the tooth was. As long as you receive treatment and are careful to follow your dentist’s instructions, your dry socket should heal successfully.
Do you have more questions? We’re here to help! Contact our office today to get more tips about wisdom teeth removal.
Your smile is one of the most important parts of your appearance, and helps you make a good first impression. If you’re uncomfortable with the way your teeth look, it can interfere with your ability to interact with others and can affect your quality of life. However, there are ways you can keep your teeth white and your smile bright.
Everyday Hygiene for Clean, White Teeth
Everyday dental hygiene is the first step in maintaining a bright, clean smile. Brush and floss daily to prevent decay and to remove staining agents from the surfaces of your teeth. You can also avoid foods and beverages that can discolor your tooth enamel, including:
- Dark-colored fruits and vegetables
Tobacco is also a major staining agent, and can cause numerous other dental issues that can detract from the look of your smile.
If your teeth tend to develop mild discoloration over time, a whitening toothpaste can help remove these stains. This type of toothpaste usually uses baking soda as a gentle abrasive to remove discoloration. This is effective for stains on the surfaces of the teeth. Other types of staining should be evaluated by a dentist to determine the best approach for treatment.
What to do If Your Teeth Are Stained
If everyday cleaning, even with a whitening toothpaste, does not restore your smile, ask your dentist about other forms of treatment. In-office, professional-strength whitening is a popular and highly effective approach that can lighten your teeth five to ten shades in a single, hour-long treatment.
If your teeth do not respond to whitening treatment, or if you have intrinsic staining, you might consider dental veneers. Intrinsic staining affects the deeper layers of the enamel and usually does not respond to whitening. It’s usually caused by exposure to certain antibiotics or to excess fluoride while your teeth were developing. Talk to our cosmetic dentist about options that can give you a white, welcoming smile if your teeth are affected by intrinsic staining.
One common reason to visit the dentist is to diagnose and treat a toothache. Although you should not wait until you are experiencing discomfort to make an appointment with the dentist, if you are experiencing a toothache or other symptoms that there may be a problem, it is important to seek treatment.
What Causes a Toothache?
Toothaches can occur due to a variety of problems with your teeth. Most people assume that if they have a toothache it’s because of a cavity, but in most cases cavities do not produce symptoms. If tooth decay has progressed far enough that you are experiencing discomfort, it usually means the tooth has been significantly damaged.
Some of the most common causes of toothache include:
- Damage to the tooth enamel
- Damage to the tooth’s interior
- Impacted tooth
To alleviate symptoms from these issues, you’ll need to see your dentist. If your tooth is decayed, a restoration can eliminate your discomfort. Severe damage, however, might required root canal therapy or extraction.
Symptoms of Toothache
A toothache can produce other symptoms in addition to discomfort in the tooth. You might also experience these symptoms without extreme discomfort. Anything that feels unusual or uncomfortable in your mouth could indicate an underlying problem that should be treated.
Other symptoms that should be brought to your dentist’s attention include:
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Redness or swelling in the gums
- Extreme sensitivity
- Persistent headache, earache, or aching in the jaw
Your dentist can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you need treatment to alleviate them. If your tooth is decayed, a filling or dental crown might be necessary. For impacted teeth or damage to the tooth’s interior, you will mostly likely require root canal treatment. Your teeth can also ache because other teeth are trying to emerge. This might require extraction, particularly in the case of wisdom teeth. With proper treatment, your dentist can alleviate your discomfort and often help you keep a tooth even if it has been severely damaged.
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For decades, amalgam fillings, made of a combination of several metals, have been the standard for restoring decayed teeth. In recent years, however, more people have turned to tooth-colored fillings because they are more realistic looking. Some people have also decided against amalgam because of concerns about the mercury included in the mix of metals.
What are Amalgam Fillings?
If you’ve needed a filling recently, chances are your dentist offered you a choice between traditional amalgam fillings and tooth-colored fillings. You might have even discussed the possibility of replacing your old fillings with new ones made of dental resin. Before you make this decision, it’s important to know the facts about dental amalgam and the advantages offered by alternative materials.
Dental amalgam is made of a mixture of metals that includes silver, tin, and copper mixed into liquid mercury, which binds it all together. It has been used in dentistry for about 150 years. It is relatively inexpensive and strong enough to keep your tooth intact in the presence of normal wear and tear. Some people have expressed concern that the mercury in the amalgam releases small quantities of mercury vapor that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. To date, no studies have proven any severe side effects related to this phenomenon. However, this concern, as well as other considerations, has led many patients to choose tooth-colored alternatives that do not contain mercury.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings—also called composite fillings—are made of a resin that bonds to the tooth in a way that amalgam cannot. This can help hold a tooth together if it has experienced minor cracks or other damage that can be caused by cavities. Other advantages of composite fillings include:
- They do not respond to changes in temperature
- They cannot conduct temperature to the tooth’s interior
- Your dentist generally has to remove less of the tooth to make room for the filling
- They can be used to modify the tooth’s shape if necessary
If you need a filling, be sure to talk to your dentist about your options. Also check with your insurance company to find out their policy on tooth-colored fillings versus dental amalgam.
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Almost everyone will have to have a tooth extraction at one time or another. Most commonly, the wisdom teeth must be extracted when there is not enough room for them in your mouth. If you take good care of yourself after you have your tooth removed, you should have a smooth and uneventful recovery.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
It’s important to take good care of yourself after you’ve had a tooth removed. Diligent aftercare reduces the likelihood of infection and also helps prevent dry socket. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with guidelines for how to treat yourself during your recovery. A typical aftercare regimen includes:
- Avoid strenuous exercise for a day or two
- Use gauze to control any bleeding
- Rinse gently with warm salt water
- Take any and all medications your dentist prescribes to control discomfort and prevent infection
- Avoid using a straw for several days
- Avoid brushing over the extraction site
- Report any unusual symptoms to your dentist as soon as possible
Immediately after your tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in your mouth to protect the empty socket. If this blood clot becomes dislodged, it can create a very uncomfortable condition called dry socket. If you are careful about brushing, avoid using a straw, and rinse your mouth gently rather than vigorously, you should be able to avoid this issue.
Why Would I Need a Tooth Extraction?
There are many reasons why you might need to have a tooth removed. In the case of wisdom teeth, dentists usually recommend removal when there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate the new tooth. This often leads to compaction, in which the tooth is wedged against an adjacent tooth or the jawbone and is unable to emerge properly through the gums.
A severely damaged or infected tooth might also require removal. In some cases, your dentist might extract the tooth to make room for braces or other orthodontic appliances. No matter why your tooth is removed, it’s very important to take care of the empty socket as instructed by your dentist. If you are diligent and follow your aftercare instructions, you are much more likely to experience a successful recovery.
If you need an extraction, contact our office today to schedule a consultation!
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