Every tooth in the mouth has a thin layer of bacteria called biofilm. When acid-producing bacteria start to overpower the other non-acid producing bacteria, it tips the balance of the biofilm. This allows bacteria to start eating away at tooth structure causing dental decay. There are several contributing factors that can tip the balance of the biofilm causing a diseased state. Some risk factors include:
- Sugary or acidic diet
- Frequent snacking
- History of decay/cavities
- Medication use/systemic disease
- Dry mouth
- Oral appliances (braces, retainers, partial dentures)
Seeing a dental professional on a regular basis can help reduce risk for infection or the progression of oral decay. It is critical to your health (oral and overall) that you come in for regular screenings so we can intervene early in the process.
Sealants are a preventative procedure used to fill in deep, narrow grooves in a tooth that are hard to adequately clean with brushing. In some cases, the tooth structure has fine grooves or pits which accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn’t brush, but because they’re too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. These will develop cavities over time. A coating will be brushed on that seals the grooves and pits, making it possible to brush off all the plaque and keep your teeth healthy. This procedure is painless and will provide lasting protection.
Fillings are completed to remove decay and replace affected tooth structure. They are called fillings because new tooth colored material fills the hole that is caused by decay. These days, most teeth are treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings. If caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. If left untreated, decay can lead to tooth pain and/or infection, and the tooth may need root canal treatment or worst case, an extraction.
Composite Bonding (Tooth Colored Fillings)
Bonding involves adhering tooth colored composite resin to natural tooth structure. This is done to repair a tooth affected by decay, close gaps between the teeth, or for other cosmetic purposes. First, the surface of the tooth is roughened in order to accept the bonding agent and hold it. A gel is applied to micro etch the tooth surface, and a primer/bond agent is applied so the composite material adheres to the surface. Then the composite is placed on the tooth and hardened with UV light. The composite resin material is shaped and polished to get a lustrous finish as a last step.
Dental concerns that can be addressed with composite fillings are:
- Decayed teeth
- Broken, cracked teeth
- Old, broken down silver fillings
- Eroded teeth
- Gapped teeth
You may want to have a discussion regarding the option of repairing the damage with tooth colored (composite) fillings. Composite is a durable substance used to both repair damaged teeth while seamlessly matching the existing tooth. Composite is a safe and aesthetically pleasing way to make small repairs on broken teeth.
Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment, or when a large filling wears out and cracks. The larger the cavity, the higher the chance that a crown will be needed. After a filling is put in a large cavity, the tooth is more likely to break. Teeth are subjected to a tremendous amount of pressure with chewing and grinding. Crowns cover weakened teeth, providing strength and protecting teeth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is more difficult to treat.
Typically, two appointments are required to restore a tooth with a crown. In the first appointment, decay is removed from the tooth and the tooth is shaped to accept the crown. An impression is then made of the tooth for use in fabricating a crown. Between those two visits the crown is made at the lab, usually of high-strength porcelain over gold alloy, all ceramic material or gold. During this time, a temporary crown is worn to protect the tooth. In the second visit this temporary is removed. The permanent crown is adjusted as needed and then permanently cemented in place.
Here at MDC, we are proud to provide same-day CEREC crowns! For more information regarding CEREC, click here.
Bridges are one option to repair smiles that are missing teeth. Traditionally porcelain fused to metal, bridges are made up of two crowns and one pontic. It uses two adjacent teeth to the gap for support and a fake tooth is formed to to fill in the gap. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If left untreated, the surrounding teeth begin to tip or shift inward. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing, they start to tip and fall. As this worsens, the bite changes in response to the pressure. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw, e.g. TMJ issues. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and become compromised or possibly lost in the future. Gum disease becomes a problem, and the difficulty of treatment increases as time passes.