Fillings are done to remove decay and replace the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because a new material fills the hole that decay left. Today most teeth are treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings. Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. If not treated, decay can lead to tooth pain and/or infection, and then the tooth would need root canal treatment or extraction.
Bonding involves adhering composite resin material to the tooth. This is done to repair damage done to the tooth by decay, to alter the alignment of the tooth, close gaps between the teeth, or for cosmetic purposes. First, the surface of the tooth is roughened in order to accept the bonding and hold it. A gel is applied to micro etch the tooth surface, and a primer/bond agent is applied so the material adheres to the surface. Then, the material itself is placed on the tooth and hardened with intense light. The composite resin material is shaped and polished to get a lustrous finish as a last step.
Sealants are used to fill in 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 does not brush, but because they are too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. These will develop cavities over time, and you do not want that. So the dentist or hygienist 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.
NON-SURGICAL GUM TREATMENTS
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for ones teeth. All of these structures are referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) may be as follows: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, receding gums, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. Any of these signs may mean something is wrong. With the proper care, it may be possible to return them to a healthy state. This is where appropriate gum treatments come in. If you are having a problem, come in and see us so we can take care of it right away. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. If the gum disease gets too severe it may need to be treated through surgery or extraction. This is why it is important to get it treated at the first sign of a problem.
X-rays are a focused beam of particles passed through the bone and teeth which produce a digital image on a computer or on special film. This image is called a radiograph. The resulting radiograph shows the structures through which it passed. This gives the familiar black and white images that doctors and dentists use to diagnose problems. Radiographs are a necessary part of the diagnostic process. Without a radiograph of the whole tooth, and supporting bone and gum tissues, there is no real way to detect some cavities, infection, or pathology that requires attention.
In our office, we use digital radiography which allows us to take X-rays using 50-70% less radiation versus conventional X-rays. Coupled with computer monitoring, digital x-ray technology allows us to enhance the images for better diagnosis of any dental concerns.