Examinations, radiographs (x-rays), and treatment planning
After taking a medical history on each patient, our staff will carefully examine all parts of the mouth and note any new problems such as decay, gum disease or fractured teeth.
Radiographs, which are the images produced by x-rays, are a crucial aspect of a dental exam and treatment plan. Radiographs show much that we cannot see: Cavities between the teeth, abscesses and infections, the bone surrounding teeth, and lots of other information. We use new digital x-ray equiptment. This technology is more effective in revealing dental problems, is faster and uses considerably less radiation than conventional film equipment.
Once your examination is complete, you may be presented with several different treatment plan options depending on your priorities with time, finances, and many other factors. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions or request clarification during this process.
Cleanings and deep scaling
During a dental cleaning (often called a prophylaxis, or "prophy"), Dr. Radin or our hygienists will use a variety of instruments to clean a patient's teeth. Depending on the amount of care that is needed to keep teeth clean and free of periodontal disease, patients may get a cleaning every 3, 4, or 6 months.
A "prophy angle", or prophylaxis cup, is a type of special toothbrush mounted on a motor. It has a rubber cup on the end, which can wrap around the teeth and clean under the gingiva, or gum. It is particularly effective in removing plaque (soft deposits of plaque and bacteria), food, and stain.
An ultrasonic scaler uses sound waves and water to vibrate debris off teeth. These instruments are extremely effective in removing soft deposits (plaque) as well as hard deposits, called tartar or calculus. Hand instruments are used to remove plaque and calculus from the teeth.
Gingivitis is a condition where the gingiva is inflamed due to plaque deposits that are not being removed with regular brushing at home. A common sign of gingivitis is bleeding during brushing. If you notice any areas that bleed when you brush or floss at home, those spots need to be cleaned more, not avoided. Your dentist or hygienist can show you ways to brush more efficiently and target areas that are collecting buildup. If patients focus on more effective oral hygiene techniques and target areas of plaque near the gumline, the gum will become less swollen and inflamed. Healthy gums should be light pink (not red), look "tight" (instead of puffy or swollen), and not bleed with brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis is when gingivitis has progressed to the point where the bone surrounding the teeth becomes affected. Due to the bacteria found under the gumline and the body's own defense reactions, the bone starts to "melt away", or lower. Teeth can eventually become loose if they do not have enough bone support. Though there are techniques to slow and sometimes reverse this process, bone loss is often irreversible. Another aspect of periodontitis involves pockets forming around the teeth, which are difficult to clean effectively and can make gum disease progress more quickly. Reducing the bacteria, tartar, and plaque below the gumline is the best treatment for periodontitis.
Deep scaling and root planing is sometimes needed for patients with periodontitis. During a deep scaling, the dentist or hygienist often focuses on one area of the mouth at a time and thoroughly removes hard and soft deposits, especially below the gum line. It may take several visits to treat the whole mouth.
Periodontal surgery is sometimes required if a patient has gum pockets too deep to reach with regular scaling. Surgery can also be done to correct or reverse periodontitis. During this procedure, small incisions are made in the gingiva to get access to all tooth structure. After the deep cleaning, the gum is sutured back together, and patients can usually return to regular cleanings and scaling. Ideally, treatment of periodontitis may help to reduce the height of the gum pockets so that all areas are accessible.
Fillings or Restorations
A restoration, commonly called a filling, is placed in one visit. A handpiece, or dental drill, is used both to remove any decay and shape the tooth to receive the filling. Decay is softening of a tooth due to bacteria and acids, and can continue to spread if not stopped with a filling. Certain modifications are made to the tooth to best work with the physical properties of the filling material. We do not use materials that contain mercury in our restorations.
There are many ways to change the appearance of both a single tooth and the entire smile. Dental treatment in general strives to copy the appearance and function of your natural teeth. For instance, if a tooth with a cavity is filled with composite resin, or a "white" filling, Dr. Radin will choose a color that best matches the rest of the tooth and carefully sculpt the filling so that it is not apparent that any work was done. When placing a porcelain crown, several different shades and layers of porcelain are applied to mimic the complex color combinations of a single tooth.
A veneer is one way to change the appearance of the front teeth. A small amount of enamel is removed and a thin layer of porcelain or composite resin is bonded over the front surface of the teeth. This is performed in two visits, since an impression of the tooth needs to be sent to a dental lab, which builds the veneer to the proper specifications. Veneers are very effective for stained, shortened, and misshapen teeth. They can also be used to close small gaps between teeth or to correct minor misalignments.
We offer teeth bleaching to bring your help make your smile its best. Dr. Radin can evaluate your smile to help you determine if bleaching would be the right option for you. This is an in-office bleaching technique that is safe and effective.
Crowns and bridges
A crown is a "shell" that usually made of porcelain, metal or both. This is cemented over a tooth that has been reshaped to accommodate the crown. Crowns are sometimes called "caps".
There are many reasons why a tooth might need a crown:
Insufficient tooth remaining above the gumline due to decay, large fillings, or fracture.
After a root canal is performed.
If a tooth is being used as an "abutment" (neighboring tooth) for a bridge.
Aesthetic reasons, such as discoloration and minor alignment corrections.
Structural changes to the shape or orientation of the teeth, such as tilted teeth that will be used as anchors in a partial denture.
A bridge is a series of crowns that are connected, used to replace missing teeth. Crowns are placed on the neighboring natural teeth, and a "pontic" is the fake tooth that replaces the missing teeth, leaving a total of three or more crowns that are attached to each other. After a bridge is cemented, patients are taught to use special floss that is threaded underneath the pontic and used to keep the bridge, gum, and neighboring teeth clean.
A dental implant is placed in the bone where a tooth's root used to be. This is done as a surgical procedure where a small amount of bone is removed and the implant is placed. The artificial tooth or crown may not be placed immediately on the implant. If the implant is in a visible area, Dr. Radin can suggest temporary tooth replacement for this healing period.
When the implant is ready for supporting a crown, a type of connector called an abutment is screwed into the implant and an impression is taken of this abutment. This impression is sent to the lab so that they can make a crown to be cemented onto the abutment. A temporary crown may be placed on the abutment while waiting for the lab to make the final crown.
Implants can be used to replace individual teeth, to be used as anchors in a bridge or to retain dentures.
Complete dentures and partial dentures
Removable dentures are used to replace missing teeth. Complete dentures are made for patients with no natural teeth.
Just like when someone learns to wear contact lenses, dentures take some training to learn how to wear and care for them. With patience, they will usually become a normal part of your life and may allow you to chew, speak, and smile as you always have. Implants can sometimes be used to help stabilize dentures.
Partial dentures are used when a patient has only some teeth missing and wishes to fill in the spaces. They are usually made out of plastic and metal. Like complete dentures, they also take some time to get used to wearing but eventually become a normal part of your mouth. Not all teeth are candidates for being anchors for partial dentures, and your dentist will advise you about the best way to approach your treatment plan.
Our office offers a quick, easy and very effective bleaching system. Jasmine, our specially trained bleaching specialist will polish your teeth and will apply a safe material to you teeth that will leave your teeth looking their best and brightest!