Q) What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

A sealants is a thin, plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of teeth, usually the back teeth, to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds to the crevices and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective layer over the enamel. They are a common procedure for children and adolescents as they can protect the teeth through their most sensitive years. As children are prone to cavities, this is essentially beneficial. Adults who don’t have pre-existing dental fillings or tooth decay are also good candidates for sealants. Sealants offer the teeth protection for many years, but should be monitored during your regular dental visits.

Q) What is teeth whitening and how would it benefit me?

Tooth whitening is the process by which teeth are lightened through the removal of stains and discolorations. Whiter teeth can be achieved through a variety of methods: over the counter products, prescription gels and customized teeth trays, and in office procedures. It is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures because it significantly improves the appearance of a patient’s smile. An added plus is that whitening can be performed multiple times. This is great for when you want to give your smile a boost to maintain it’s whiter color. When you’re happy with your teeth, you are more likely to smile. Smiling is a natural way of enhancing your mood. A nice small also gives you increased self-esteem and confidence in your interactions with others.

Q) What is a dental implant and how are they installed?

Dental implant surgery is a procedure that creates artificial tooth roots which are inserted into the jawbone and act as a base for replacement teeth. Implants are typically screw-type posts made of titanium. Depending on the type of implant procedure done, the posts may also be smooth and cylindrical or bladed. The posts are capped with dental crowns which take the place of previously damaged or missing teeth. Implants are a preferred method of restoration, because they fit comfortably and provide the appearance of of a full, natural smile. Implants provide a permanent solution, as the jawbone will heal around the implant. The major benefit of implants is strong support for your crowns. The material used are durable and long-lasting. You won’t ever have to worry about tooth decay with this practical option.

Q) What is the difference between porcelain veneers and traditional veneers?

Traditional veneers are formed from composite resins and act as an artificial layer which are bonded to the teeth. Veneers provide you with a more pleasing smile, as they give the appearance of teeth that are white, straight and even. The resin is molded into the correct size and shape, so that they have a natural appearance. Composite veneers can be completed in one trip to the dental office, as they are formed at the time of insertion. A small amount of the natural teeth will have to shaped down in order to fit the veneers onto them. Composite resin usually requires less shaping of the teeth prior to placement, as compared to porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers require more shaping of the natural teeth than composite resin; however, porcelain material is extremely strong and durable. Many people prefer porcelain because it reflects light in the same way that natural teeth do. Both types of veneers are excellent options, because they recreate the look and feel of your natural teeth.

Q) What can I expect during a root canal?

The root canal is one of the most dreaded dental procedures, but there’s no need to fear. Many people find that the root canal is actually less painful than many other common dental practices. It also provides immediate pain relief from the excruciating pain of a damaged tooth or nerve. A root canal is an endodontic procedure, which is concerned with the removal of infected or damaged dental pulp. Pulp is the soft inner tissue which is found on the inside of teeth. Once the affected pulp has been removed, the resulting cavity is thoroughly disinfected. The space is then packed with a special substance which acts as replacement pulp. The recovery time for a root canal is relatively quick. Similar to the precautions taken following a tooth extraction, a root canal requires careful eating and oral care practices until it has healed. Most people report that their pain following the procedure is easily managed with over the counter pain relievers.

Q) What happens during a routine dental exam?

A dental examination is a routine procedure that occurs when you first begin visiting a dental practice, and as part of your ongoing preventative and treatment services. During a dental exam, the dentist will examine your mouth and check for cavities or signs of gum disease. A dental exam might also include traditional or digital X-ray images, which alert your dental care team to potentially serious issues. A dental cleaning may be performed during the same visit. Your dental hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and gums to rid them of harmful bacteria, plaque and tartar. Proper brushing and flossing techniques will likely be discussed for educational purposes.

Q) What are my options for metal-free crowns?

Metal-free materials are optimal for creating a tooth replacement which looks nearly identical to the appearance of a natural tooth. Metal-free options include Zirconia and porcelain crowns. Porcelain crowns are made completely of a thin layer of porcelain. They are highly sought after for their translucent effect. Zirconia crowns on the other hand, are made from chunks of crystal. They are stronger than their porcelain counterparts and are virtually indestructible.