What we call a “prophy” is professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist to clean everything you see above the gums. The removal of plaque, calculus, a thorough flossing and a nice polish to make everything clean, feel smooth and help bring your mouth back to a healthy baseline.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screenings are conducted free of charge for all patients at every exam. If your friend or family member has a concern about oral cancer there will be no charge to have Dr. Harding take a look at any time. Please call if concerned.
Periodontal treatment is needed if there is calculus and debris hiding below the gums. Patients often notice this with painful bleeding gums or we will discover this disease process when we measure your gums (pocket depths) at your exam and cleaning appointments. Sometimes this is a sign of gingivitis but in more severe cases Periodontal Disease has begun and permanent tissue and bone loss around the teeth can occur. Often we suggest patients have local anesthesia for periodontal therapy as we want you to be as comfortable as possible. Multiple visits can be required if the entire mouth is suffering but is so important to prevent Periodontal Disease from worsening. If left untreated what begins as recession and deep pocketing can lead to teeth becoming loose, gums being painful and swollen and the eventual loss of teeth.
Sealants are used to fill narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by 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. To avoid cavities developing over time, the dentist will brush on a coating that seals the grooves and pits, making it possible to brush off all the plaque and keep your teeth healthy. Often sealants are only placed on kids and teens. However patients of every age can benefit if they have a high risk of cavities and deep grooves on their teeth.
Basic fillings are typically where the decayed tooth structure from a cavity is removed and the tooth is restored to being whole with white filling material called composite or on occasion the metal looking filling material called amalgam. Teeth can also require fillings if they break, have wear or are sometimes used to improve the look of the teeth with “cosmetic” bondings.
Crowns (also known as “caps”) are used to cover the entire tooth. These are indicated when half or more of your tooth is made up of a filling and is at risk for breaking. Crowns are both protective and cosmetic.
Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover and protect a tooth that has had root canal treatment from breaking
In our office this is a two step process where we make the shape for the crown, send the impression to a certified lab technician who will design and build your crown out of gold/porcelain/zirconia or a combination of those 3. While the crown is being fabricated at the lab you will have a white temporary crown in it’s place for cosmetic and functional purposes. The lab will then deliver your crown to us and we will cement it permanently into place at a second appointment.
Bridges are a tooth replacement option. Multiple crowns are involved and the space where a tooth was removed is disguised with a hanging crown. These are both cosmetic and functional and a good option for a non removable tooth replacement.
Partials are a removable tooth replacement option for those missing some but not all of their teeth. These can be made with metal bases or gum colored acrylic. We do our best to make a long lasting partial that is both comfortable to wear and looks like natural teeth and gums. Dentures are similar to partials but only used if the patient is missing all of their teeth.
Tray whitening is our whitening treatment of choice that allows you to whiten in the comfort of your own home, on your own schedule and we find creates minimal tooth sensitivity. We will first take an impression of your mouth to create customized clear whitening trays for you to wear. Within a few days your trays will be ready to be picked up and we will show you how to apply the special bleaching material to the trays. The whitening gel trays should be worn 30-60 minutes up to twice a day. At the end of this period, you will see maximum whitening results that are nothing short of dazzling. Occasional treatment can be used at your convenience to maintain your new smile
Veneers are typically a cosmetic procedure using an extremely thin shell of porcelain that bonds to the front of a tooth (enamel). Veneers can be used to change the shape, color. size and symmetry of the teeth and smile. In cosmetic dentistry, porcelain is the material of choice because it replicates human enamel the most naturally. In some cases little to no tooth structure has to be removed to place the very thinnest of veneers, meaning Dr. Harding can improve your smile with no numbing and no change in your natural tooth structure.
Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is made necessary when an untreated cavity reaches all the way to this pulp. Treatment may also be needed when deep restorations or trauma to a tooth cause nerve damage. Once the pulp becomes infected, it can begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is known as an abscess). If the pulp is infected, not only is it painful but it will require treatment as it cannot heal on its own. Symptoms that indicate the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. However, sometimes no symptoms are apparent and you may be unaware of any problem until a checkup.
A root canal is performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp and disinfect the canals of the tooth. Alternate treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal is filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy.
A dental implant is a tooth restoration for people who are missing one or more teeth as a result of injury, periodontal disease, or any other reason. A dental implant is a metal post that the dentist surgically positions into the jaw to replace the root of the lost tooth. Once in place and the bone surrounding the implant has had time to heal, a crown, which serves as a replacement tooth is attached to the implant post. While implants are typically more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, they provide superior benefits. Implants are stronger than natural teeth and generally last 10-20 years. They are also a more favorable approach than bridgework since they do not depend on neighboring teeth for support. This means they do not weaken the remaining teeth the way a bridge can. Implants effectively keep a one tooth problem a one tooth problem, rather than involving additional teeth the way a bridge does. To receive implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. You must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
Good oral hygiene should always be practiced since the loss of a single tooth can have major impact upon your oral health and appearance. Although dentists will use every measure to prevent tooth loss, there are still some occasions when a tooth may need to be extracted. A tooth may need to be extracted if the following occurs:
- Severe decay
- Advanced periodontal (gum) disease, which involves loss of supporting bone.
- Infection or abscess
- Orthodontic correction
- Malpositioned teeth
- Fractured teeth or roots
- Impacted teeth
After careful examination and treatment, the dentist may advise to have a tooth extracted. Before a tooth is removed, the dentist will take an x-ray in order to understand the shape and position of the tooth and surrounding bone. Based on the degree of difficulty, we may refer you to a specialist called an oral surgeon.
Dr. Harding loves to see the whole family. She has a lot of experience working with apprehensive kids and helping them to see that the dentist office is not a scary place. We do offer nitrous oxide ( “laughing gas”) for patients who need help to relax and get through the dental appointment as atraumatically as possible. Children should start coming to the dental office around the age of 1 to familiarize themselves with a doctor looking in their mouth and touching their teeth. Our entire staff has worked in pediatrics and really helps the whole family to have a great experience. We take pride in being patient with kids and walking them through everything so that they look forward to their cleanings and aren’t scared if they need treatment. Movies playing during their appointment and fun toy rewards are always helpful!
Night Guards & Mouth Guards
Custom designed mouth guards are made of flexible plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth. Mouth guards are recommended to protect the jaw and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, skiing or other activities where your mouth may get hit. In addition, these guards protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. Night guards, often made of a more firm plastic material are recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night as a way to protect their teeth and jaw joints from pain and damage.