Root canal treatment (also called a root canal) is done when decay will likely damage or has already killed a tooth. During a root canal, a dentist or endodontist removes the pulp from the center of a tooth and fills the pulp cavity. This can prevent the development of a painful infection in the pulp that may spread to other teeth. A root canal can also treat an infection that has developed into an abscessed tooth. This procedure can relieve toothache, stop infection, and promote healing. Whenever a tooth has had a root canal treatment, a crown must be placed on the tooth for protection.
Crowns are typically placed on teeth when the cavity, old filling or broken area of the tooth is too large to repair with a filling. Crowns are also placed to protect a tooth after a root canal treatment has been done. Crowns can be made from a variety of materials, and different situations dictate the type of material used. Our lab technician works closely with the doctors to provide an excellent result, esthetically and functionally. We take great pride in our work placed in your mouth. The ultimate goal is for the crown to look and feel like a natural, healthy tooth.
Bridges are fixed, or non-removable prostheses constructed to replace one or more missing teeth. The teeth on either side of the existing space are used to anchor the bridge to restore functionality as well as esthetics. We construct beautiful porcelain fused to metal bridges as well as porcelain fused to zirconia bridges to produce the most esthetic, functional and long lasting results as possible.
Many people suffer from halitosis (bad breath). There are many causes for bad breath. We will evaluate the cause and help you by providing treatment or giving you homecare instructions on how to control the bad breath. We also recommend the product “Breath Rx”, which can be purchased over the counter, at most drug stores.
Occlusal Splint or Nightguard
A nightguard is designed to prevent damage to teeth and is often used to treat patients with temperomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). Patients who grind or clench their teeth during the day or evening are often prescribed a nightguard to protect teeth and fillings from breakage. Many patients suffer from TMJD and require treatment to alleviate pain caused by this disease. One element of treatment of this disease is to wear a nightguard. We generally make a hybrid nightguard which has a soft inner material and a hard outer material.
- During the first visit, an impression and bite registration is taken of the patient’s upper and lower teeth.
- A mold is created from the impression and sent to a laboratory to have the appliance made.
- A second visit to the office is necessary to adjust the nightguard for a comfortable fit and proper occlusion.
Mouth guards are made to protect the teeth while doing sports activities. Sports guards can be bought at drugstores; however, if you desire a custom fit mouthguard, we can provide that service.
For a custom sports/mouth guard to be made for you, we take an impression of your teeth and make a sports/mouth guard. Custom-made sports/mouth guards are designed to “grip” each individual tooth and therefore is much more supportive during impact. You will never achieve this type of fit using boilable sports/mouth guards. Sports/mouth guards should be replaced about every 6 months for children and once they stop growing, or for adults then once a season is sufficient. We recommend that you bring your sports/mouth guard with you for your regular check-ups and we can check to see if it still fits properly.
Many people suffer from Temperomandibular Joint Disorder. This can be due to a variety of causes, but often is caused from clenching or grinding. Treatment for this disorder often includes wearing an occlusal splint (nightguard). We offer several types of occlusal splints . We will diagnose the problem and make recommendations for treatment.
The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. This is usually accomplished by taking an anti-inflammatory along with muscle relaxant, and wearing an occlusal splint. Self-care treatments can often be effective and include:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
An occlusal splint or nightguard fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth, reduces muscle tension at night and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces.
Pit and fissure sealants are like plastic coatings that are painted or brushed onto the surface of the teeth (kind of like putting on nail polish). Sealants are done as preventative measures taken to keep teeth healthy, strong and cavity free. They are most often done on permanent or adult molars but can also be used on primary molars. Often, when teeth develop, they have deep grooves on the biting surface called pits and fissures.
Pits and fissures are cavity prone areas because they trap food and bacteria, which causes cavities. Even the best brushers cannot keep these areas clean because the bristles of the toothbrush are too big to fit into the grooves. We recommend sealants to be done once the adult molars have fully erupted in children’s mouths, usually around the age of six and again at the age of twelve.
To apply the sealants, the teeth must be cleaned well, and then dried. An etch solution is applied to the teeth (the etch helps bond the sealants to the tooth). The etch is rinsed well and the teeth are dried well again. The sealant material is applied to the teeth with a syringe like brush applicator, and it is then “cured” or hardened with an ultraviolet light. The sealant is checked for proper hardness and proper bonding to the tooth. Sometimes excess material has to be removed. The average time for sealants to last is between one and ten years. This greatly depends on the habits of the patient with home care, eating and bruxism.
Patients with sealants should be careful not to eat sticky-chewy candies, hard candies, or ice. These things can fracture the sealants or pull the sealant completely off of the tooth, preventing the sealant from protecting the tooth from developing a cavity. Clenching and grinding of the teeth can also cause a fracture in the sealant or cause the sealant to come completely off.
Regular check-ups are necessary to make sure the sealants have not become dislodged or chipped. If a sealant comes dislodged, it will need to be replaced. If you know that you have lost or broken a sealant, you should call our office to schedule an appointment to get it replaced.
All of our cleanings here at Harris Family Dentistry are performed by registered dental hygienists who are licensed oral health care professionals that have completed extensive education and clinical preparation in preventive oral health care. Our hygienists take part in continuing education annually to stay up-to-date on knowledge of modern dentistry.
Types of Dental Cleaning
- Standard prophylaxis If a patient has good daily oral hygiene (brushing twice daily and flossing once daily), has no signs of periodontal disease, and has had regular dental cleanings at least every six months, then a standard prophylaxis (cleaning) is performed. Generally, this treatment would be performed on a patient that has 1 to 3 mm pockets depths, some isolated 4 mm pockets, and a mild to moderate amount of plaque and calculus build up.
- Full Mouth Debridement This type of cleaning is typically performed on patients who have not had a cleaning in 1 year or more. A full mouth debridement is performed when the patient has more than a normal amount of plaque and calculus build up and some probing depths great than 3 mm with inflammation of the gums. A full mouth debridement requires more time with the hygienists than a regular cleaning, as well as the use of equipment such as the cavitron or the prophy jet. Some patients may require anesthesia to be comfortable. We schedule for a follow up, usually 3 months later, and perform a regular cleaning. At this appointment, a new assessment of the periodontal health is done. We will then make a recommendation for either regular cleanings with a 3, 4 or 6 month recall or for more extensive periodontal therapy, if needed.
- Scaling and Root Planning This type of cleaning is typically performed on patients who have not had their teeth cleaned for several years or more. Generally, a patient who needs scaling and root planing, could not comfortably have a regular cleaning. This treatment is necessary when a patient has generalized pocketing of 4 mm or more with a generalized buildup accumulation of plaque, buildup of calculus, a lot of gingival inflammation and areas of the gums that bleed to touch or floss. This treatment is scheduled in two appointments. At each appointment, one side of the mouth will be anesthetized and cleaned with hand scalers as well as the ultrasonic instruments and then polished. The patient may be given a prescription (Periomed) to rinse with that will help repair tissues and kill bacteria in the mouth. After both sides of the mouth have been cleaned, the patient is scheduled for a cleaning in 3 months. At this appointment, we will recommend either a three, four or six month recall for cleanings.
There are different instruments we may use to perform these services depending on the patient’s conditions and needs.
- Cavitron – mechanized instrument which vibrates and uses a fluid stream to help remove calculus. Usually used for removal of heavy calculus within pockets or above the gum.
- Scalers – Hand activated instruments used to remove debris, plaque or calculus from the teeth.
- Prophyjet – Combination of air, water, and polishing agent to polish difficult stains (tobacco, teas, coffee, foods, soft drinks) away from tooth surfaces that are present on the outermost surfaces of the teeth.