Cosmetic & General Dentistry, Emergency care and Oral Surgery
Cosmetic & General Dentistry
The practice of dentistry encompasses an amazing array of services and procedures, all with a common goal: to help you to preserve your natural teeth as long as possible, ensure your oral health, and keep you looking and feeling great throughout life.
There's so much that can be done these days to improve the appearance of a person's smile — at any age. From powerful, professional whitening treatments to amazingly realistic porcelain veneers to state-of-the-art dental implants, there's a wide range of exciting possibilities.
The first step in any smile makeover is a thorough dental examination to make sure that your cosmetic problems really are just that, and not a sign of underlying dental disease. Once your health has been established, your smile can be cosmetically enhanced in a variety of ways.
Cosmetic & General Dentistry Procedures
Modern dentistry offers a wide range of services to make sure your teeth stay healthy, function well and look great. These procedures include:
- Cleanings & Oral Exams, to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and catch early signs of dental disease
- Cosmetic Bonding, to repair small chips or cracks
- Crowns & Bridgework, to replace large amounts of lost tooth structure and/or missing teeth
- Extractions, to remove unhealthy teeth that cannot be saved
- Fillings and Tooth Colored Fillings, to restore decayed teeth, and for a completely natural and healthy look. A patient can choose between the trusted amalgam or the tooth colored composite for restoration.
- Invisalign Clear Aligners, for highly discreet orthodontic treatment
- Oral Cancer Screenings, to detect a dangerous disease that can be cured if caught early
- Porcelain Veneers, for repairing larger chips and cracks, and reshaping teeth
- Removable Dentures, to help you smile again
- Root Canal Treatment, to rescue diseased teeth
- Sealants, to help prevent cavities
- Teeth Whitening, to brighten a faded or discolored smile
- Tooth Decay Prevention, so you keep your natural teeth as long as possible
When to Visit the Dentist
Many people only go to the dentist when something is wrong. That is truly a shame, because they are missing out on so many preventive services that can save discomfort — and expense — down the road. Regular dental visits are essential to make sure oral health problems — from tooth decay to oral cancer — are detected and treated in a timely manner. Some individuals may need to see the dentist more often than others to stay on top of problems like plaque buildup and gum disease, but everyone should go at least once per year.
Your regular dental visits will include a thorough oral exam to check the health of your teeth and gums; and oral cancer screening to spot any suspicious signs early; and a professional cleaning to remove stubborn deposits and make your teeth look and feel great. So don't miss out on the many benefits dentistry offers you and your family!
Your Smile Makeover
The most important job you have as a member of your own smile makeover team is to communicate exactly what you don't like about your smile and how you'd like it to be different. Before the first consultation, give some thought to the following questions:
- What do you like or dislike about the color, size, shape and spacing of your teeth?
- Are you pleased with how much your teeth show, both when you smile and when your lips are relaxed?
- Do you want teeth that are perfectly aligned and a bright “Hollywood White,” or would you prefer a more natural look with slight color, shape and shade variations?
- Would you like more or less of your gums to show when you smile?
It is extremely helpful for you to bring in pictures you have collected — of smiles you like, smiles you don't like, and/or photos of the way your own smile used to look, if that's the result you're aiming for. Now is the time to get started on creating a smile that will make you feel as good as you look!
When you have a dental emergency — whether it's caused by a sudden accident or chronic disease — your teeth and/or the tissues of the mouth that surround them need to receive proper care right away. As with any type of medical emergency, it's important to be aware, before you're actually in the situation, of what you can do to ensure the best outcome.
Traumatic Dental Injuries
A knocked-out permanent tooth requires quick thinking and immediate action. You'll increase the chances that the tooth can be saved if you pick it up without touching the root, gently clean it off with water, and put it back in its socket facing the correct way. Hold it in place with gentle pressure as you rush to the dental office or emergency room. If you can't replant it immediately, tuck it between the patient's cheek and gum, or carry it in a container of cold milk.
For a more traumatic injury such as a tooth that has been moved or loosened, treatment needs to occur within six hours. However, if there is uncontrollable bleeding, go immediately to the ER. Fortunately, other dental injuries that happen most frequently are less severe. The most common traumatic dental injuries are chipped teeth. If a tooth is chipped, try to find any pieces that have come off, as it might be possible to reattach them. Make an appointment for an office visit as soon as possible, and bring the pieces with you.
Learn more about Traumatic Dental Injuries.
Acute or persistent tooth pain always signals a need for an urgent visit to the dental office. The most common cause of dental pain is tooth decay, a bacterial infection that can spread through many parts of the tooth, and even into the gum tissue. Sometimes, tooth pain indicates that you may need a root canal treatment — a procedure that not only relieves the pain of an infection deep inside the tooth, but also can keep the tooth from having to be removed. Other times, pain may be caused by a loose filling or sensitive tooth. The only way to know for sure what's causing your tooth pain is to make an appointment at the dental office right away.
Learn more about Tooth Pain.
Injuries and infections involving the soft tissues of the mouth may also require emergency treatment. The tissues of the gums, tongue, or cheek lining can be damaged by accidental bites, falls, sports injuries, and scalding liquids. They may also suffer injury from foreign bodies that become lodged below the gum line, and they can develop painful and potentially serious abscesses. A periodontal (gum) abscess is a pus-filled sac caused by an infection and is usually quite painful. Abscesses require immediate attention at the dental office.
Any injury to the soft tissues of the mouth should be rinsed with dilute salt water. If there is visible debris, it should be cleared. Bleeding can usually be controlled by pressing a clean, damp material to the area for 10-15 minutes. If this does not work, go to the emergency room immediately.
A foreign body lodged beneath the gum line can sometimes be gently worked out with dental floss or a toothpick. But if this can't be accomplished easily, make a dental appointment so the area does not become damaged and/or infected.
Learn more about Gum Emergencies.
Although there can be discomfort associated with orthodontic treatment, there are only a few true orthodontic emergencies. They include trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth. Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face, and severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas can also be orthodontic emergencies. In any of these situations, seek immediate care from the dental office or emergency room — whichever is your best option. For loose, broken or irritating pieces of orthodontic hardware, please call the dental office for advice.
Learn more about Orthodontic Emergencies.
The word “surgery” often brings to mind a stay in the hospital, general anesthesia, and perhaps a lengthy recovery period. However, the experience of having oral surgery is usually very different from that. Oral surgery is often performed in a dental office setting, under local anesthesia, with minimal recovery time. Oral Surgery can range from routine procedures such as tooth extractions and implant placement to more complex jaw realignment surgeries and emergency care for facial trauma.
Oral Surgery Procedures
Oral surgery procedures may be performed to relieve pain, treat an infection or trauma, restore function or improve a person's appearance. Procedures and conditions treated include:
- Tooth Extractions. There are a variety of reasons why you may need a tooth or teeth removed. You may have a wisdom tooth that is impacted; a diseased tooth that can't be saved; or overcrowded teeth that need to be removed so more room can be created to facilitate proper alignment during orthodontics.
- Oral Diagnosis & Biopsies. When a suspicious oral lesion is found, a biopsy is often used to detect or rule out oral cancer — a disease that is treatable if caught early. A biopsy involves removing a very small tissue sample for laboratory analysis.
- Snoring & Sleep Apnea. Excess tissue in the back of the throat may need to be removed in certain individuals with sleep apnea.
What to expect
Before your oral surgery is performed, x-rays will often be taken to aid in diagnosis and treatment planning. A step-by-step explanation of the procedure along with your anesthesia options will be discussed, and you should feel free to ask any questions you have. Your recovery experience will depend on what procedure you are having as well as your general state of health. It's always important to let your healthcare providers know what medications you are taking (both prescription and over-the-counter), any chronic health conditions you have, and whether you smoke. This will help ensure your safety and comfort — always the paramount concerns.