Maintaining Dental Health
Maintaining dental health has two main components — at-home dental hygiene and professional cleanings and examinations. Simple maintenance of your dental health can prevent complications such as tooth loss, as well as the need for restorative or cosmetic dentistry in the future.
How can I prevent tooth decay and gum disease?
Good oral hygiene starts at home, though it needs to be supplemented by regular visits to our cosmetic and general dentistry practice, Williamsburg Dental. Steps you can take to prevent tooth decay and gum disease include:
Brush at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. This helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the need for costly cosmetic or restorative dentistry in the future. Replace your brush every two to three months.
Flossing is crucial to the health of your teeth and gums and the prevention of gum disease. When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader.
Regular Dental Visits
At every regularly-scheduled dental appointment at Williamsburg Dental, one of our dentists will carefully check your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. A checkup at the Williamsburg Dental office includes:
History Review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications,and illnesses, gives us insight to your over all health and also your dental health.
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral Cancer Screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum Disease Evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of Tooth Decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of Existing Restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Removal of Calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of Plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Teeth Polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
Oral Hygiene Recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
Review Dietary Habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.
As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.
Following the clinical dental exam, your dentist will discuss a detailed treatment plan, if necessary. One of our friendly receptionists will schedule a follow-up visit for you.
Regular dental visits, along with a thorough home care regimen, are key to a lifetime of good oral health. General dentistry of this type can prevent the need for cosmetic or restorative dentistry later in life.
How does fluoride help prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride helps reverse and prevent tooth decay in three ways:
Promoting Tooth Remineralization
Acids can demineralize a tooth — that is, create a weak spot that develops into a cavity. Fluoride helps promote the opposite process, called remineralization, which can reverse the very early stages of tooth decay.
Helping Teeth Become More Resistant to Tooth Decay
Fluoride actually strengthens teeth, giving them natural protection against future tooth decay.
Inhibiting Oral Bacteria’s Ability to Create Tooth-Attacking Acids
Fluoride disrupts bacteria’s ability to metabolize sugars, the process that leads to the attack of tooth enamel.
What are the stages of gum disease? How is gum disease treated?
Gum disease has several stages. The initial stage is called gingivitis and is an infection of the gingival (gum tissue). In this stage, gums become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. The underlying bone is unaffected. In later stages, however, gum disease can lead to bone loss and the loosening or even loss of teeth.
Gum disease treatment varies according to the stage of the disease. At its mildest stages, gingivitis can be treated by clearing plaque and tartar deposits from the gum pockets. Severe gum disease, on the other hand, might require treatment that includes bone and gum grafts.
What causes sensitive teeth?
Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of factors. The porous part of the tooth, called dentin, is the region that registers pain, and dentin can become exposed due to:
• Fractured or chipped teeth
• Teeth injured by clenching or grinding
• Receding gums caused by gum disease or improper brushing
How can sensitive teeth be managed?
Pain from sensitive teeth often comes and goes, but if you experience constant pain, you may have a more serious problem.
There are many effective treatments for sensitive teeth, including:
• A soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent gum irritation
• Toothpaste designed to insulate the nerve that registers pain
• A fluoride rinse or gel, available at Williamsburg Dental
If you have sensitive teeth, visit Williamsburg Dental to discuss your symptoms. We can help determine the cause of your pain and develop a course of treatment.
What are the causes of bruxism (teeth grinding)?
Teeth grinding can be caused by a range of factors; often, both emotional and physical factors are involved. Causal factors can include stress, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth.
How can bruxism be treated?
Once the cause or causes of bruxism are determined, your dentist can develop a course of treatment.
Treatment methods may include:
• Relaxation techniques if stress is at the root of the problem
• Physical therapy
• Muscle relaxants
• An acrylic tooth guard to wear at night during sleep
Bruxism can cause serious pain and headaches, as well as dangerous wear on the teeth. In severe cases, restorative dentistry techniques such as inlays or porcelain crowns are needed to rebuild teeth damaged by bruxism. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment for bruxism early to avoid waking up with headaches or jaw pain.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a plastic coating painted on the grooved, hard-to-reach surfaces of the back teeth. Pits and fissures on these surfaces are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. Dental sealants can be used to seal out cavity-causing bacteria from damaging the teeth.
How are dental sealants applied?
Dental sealants are quickly applied at Williamsburg Dental. One of our dentists prepares the chewing surfaces of teeth, then paints on the sealant. The sealant material bonds directly to the tooth and hardens with the aid of a special curing light. Dental sealants hold up well under the force of chewing, and they provide protection against cavities for about five years. During regular dental visits, one of our dentists will check the state of sealants and re-apply them if necessary.
How do dental sealants protect teeth?
Because fluoride is effective in preventing decay from forming on the smooth surfaces of teeth, and dental sealants protect the grooves of teeth, these treatments are best used in conjunction.
Dental sealants are particularly effective for protecting children’s teeth. The first permanent molars emerge when a child is about 6. A dental sealant treatment performed shortly after these first permanent teeth emerge protects the teeth from developing cavities. Another good time for applying sealants occurs when a child is about 12, when the second permanent molars emerge.
We may also recommend sealants for adults who are at a particularly high risk of tooth decay.
Cosmetic dentistry is more popular than ever before, and for good reason. Today’s cosmetic dentistry techniques yield impressive, long-lasting results.
How does professional teeth whitening work? Is it safe?
Dentist-supervised teeth whitening systems are widely considered to provide the safest cosmetic dentistry treatments. Teeth whitening is a conservative method for completely making over your smile.
Chairside teeth whitening procedures are performed with a specially formulated peroxide gel that allows oxygen to permeate your tooth enamel, lifting stains. The structure of your tooth enamel is not affected. The most common side effect is temporary tooth sensitivity.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Longevity will obviously vary depending on each person and their lifestyle. Most people will choose to use one of the many simple methods our office provides to maintain their white teeth over time, once the initial whitening has occurred.
Will teeth whitening be harmful to my teeth?
No. Studies have shown that with normal or suggested use of teeth whitening products, there is no harmful effect on teeth. It is common for some people to have some sensitivity to the teeth whitening products.
Who is a good candidate for teeth whitening?
There are two kinds of stain on teeth — superficial and inherent. Superficial stain comes from the things we eat, drink and expose to our teeth. This kind of stain is usually yellowish in nature and yields the best results with teeth whitening systems. Inherent stain comes from things we absorb into our bodies such as minerals, fluoride and various antibiotics such as tetracycline. Ingested especially at key developmental phases in life these substances can permanently discolor teeth to the point that no teeth whitening system will have a positive effect. People will often choose to whiten their teeth with veneers, which addresses the teeth color as well as length and shape.
My teeth are crooked! What are my options?
Luckily, your options for correcting crooked teeth mean you don’t have to endure the uncomfortable metal braces of the past!
Our cosmetic dentistry practice features the country’s foremost Invisalign® dentists. Invisalign® is a system of orthodontics that uses invisible plastic aligners to comfortably shift your teeth into place.
And, we offer Six Month Smiles® which uses invisible brackets and small space-age wire to straighten your teeth and restore a confident smile in a safe, effective and unobtrusive way. This will happen within a six-month period, rather than the 12 – 24 month period for traditional braces.
Numerous other cosmetic dentistry techniques exist that can provide “instant orthodontics” that require no braces at all. Composite bonding and the application of porcelain veneers are both conservative ways to mask the appearance of crooked teeth. Be aware that these cosmetic approaches cannot address orthodontic issues such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, and therefore are not suitable for every patient.
If you have crooked teeth and would like to achieve a more beautiful smile through premier cosmetic dentistry treatments, visit Williamsburg Dental for a free consultation. At this meeting, one of our dentists will diagnose your specific issues and recommend a course of treatment.
Do you offer tooth-colored fillings? Can they replace my old metal fillings?
The placement of tooth-colored composite fillings is one of the most commonly performed general dentistry procedures at Williamsburg Dental. In addition to filling new cavities, these beautiful restorations can replace old metal fillings that have blackened, fractured, popped out, or that simply take away from the beauty of your smile.
Replacing Missing Teeth
Missing teeth is a common complaint among our patients. Luckily, our practice features several cutting-edge methods of filling gaps in a patient’s smile.
If I am missing one or more teeth, what are my options?
Patients today have an array of options for replacing missing teeth. Dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants all have their advantages and disadvantages, though modern cosmetic and restorative dentistry has come to favor dental implants because they look and function just like real teeth and require no special care.
If you have lost a tooth or several teeth, we urge you to seek treatment. Adjacent teeth can shift into the gap left by a lost tooth; in addition, a missing tooth can lead to bone loss, hygiene problems, difficulties with speaking and eating, and much more. Today’s dental restorations are better than ever, and they can give you a strong bite and a beautiful smile. Contact Williamsburg Dental today for a consultation to learn more about your options for tooth replacement.
Who is a good candidate for dental implants?
Nearly anyone who is missing one or more teeth, and desires a superior, long-lasting aesthetic result is a good candidate for dental implants. However, patients must have enough bone to support and stabilize the implant. Some individuals who have suffered bone loss as a result of gum disease or another condition may need bone grafting before a dental implant can be placed successfully. Our dentists are skilled in the bone grafting and dental implant procedures and will be glad to work with you to eliminate the gaps in your smile.
What is sedation dentistry? How can it help me?
Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedative drugs so that patients who fear dental work can avoid the discomfort and anxiety associated with dental visits.
If you have avoided getting dental care because of anxiety or fear of discomfort, sedation dentistry may be the ideal solution to allow you to get essential treatment.
What is the Difference Between a DDS and a DMD?
Dentists in the United States either have the initials DMD or DDS after their name. A lot of people may wonder what the difference is between the two. But the truth is that the only difference is in the name: The dental degree and the education are the same. DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine and DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. Some dental schools award the DMD degree while others award the DDS degree.