Medical technology has been advancing at a breakneck pace for the past several decades, and dentistry hasn’t been left behind. Dental professionals are constantly looking for the newest forms of treatments and technology that will aid in providing their patients with the best possible care, and we’re going to introduce you to some of the newest advancements that have been made.
Digital x-rays are a more streamlined way of taking dental radiographs. Like traditional x-rays, digital versions provide an in-depth view of the structures of the mouth, helping dentists detect complications and develop effective modes of treatment. Digital x-rays are capable of revealing hidden caries, bone erosion, and even tooth decay hiding beneath restorations.
Requiring less radiation and no film to process, digital x-rays have become the standard for oral imaging. These systems produce instant digital images that can easily be enhanced and enlarged for a more accurate diagnosis. The images are captured, stored, and even transmitted via in-office computers. In fact, dentists can easily print or email copies of x-rays in just seconds.
Dental x-rays make for a better and more efficient patient experience. Office visits are faster, patients are exposed to less radiation, and radiographs can be sent to a specialist for review in a fraction of the time necessary for traditional film x-rays.
A common concern of patients is the amount of radiation they’re exposed to during a dental exam. The newest forms of imaging technology employ digital x-rays, which not only employs 90% less radiation than traditional x-rays but provides viewable films to the dental staff immediately. These images are able to be zoomed in on for highly accurate assessments of dental health.
For years, dental x-rays have been used to diagnose oral health complications and detect decaying or damaged teeth. X-rays provide a unique view of the mouth that isn’t possible with a visual exam alone. When x-rays are taken, the teeth and bones absorb the majority of the ray, making them highly visible on film or on a screen. Nearly all new dental patients are x-rayed, although you may instead request that previous x-rays be transferred from another dental provider to your new dentist. By comparing your x-rays with your full mouth examination and dental history, your dentist can prescribe effective treatment and recommend a plan for preventative care.
Did you know…
that dental x-rays deliver very low levels of radiation and are considered completely safe? In fact, x-rays are even considered safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding so long as a leaded apron and collar are used to protect your body from exposure. If you are pregnant or think you may be, tell your dentist so proper precautions can be taken.
Yes. Dental x-rays are capable of identifying tooth decay and damage beneath the surface of the teeth where caries are less visible during an examination. Furthermore, x-rays provide a reference point for the progression of decay in your mouth over time. You should have x-rays taken on a regular basis, but especially if you are experiencing oral health complications or are planning to undergo a dental procedure, such as a root canal.
Getting traditional dental x-rays can take several minutes. A thick paper tab is placed into the mouth, which you will be asked to bite down on. Most patients find that dental x-rays are completely painless and do not inflict any level of discomfort. In some cases, dentists intraoral x-rays, as well as extra-oral x-rays that snap images of the face, jaw and skull. Extra-oral x-rays are typically used to identify impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth.
Your x-rays will be saved either on film or digitally. In the future, your dentist may request additional dental x-rays every few years to monitor the health of your teeth, gums and jaw over time. If you are considered to be high risk for oral disease or are exhibiting symptoms of complications, your dentist may prefer to take x-rays more frequently.
This tool employs a special camera that provides well-defined and precise images of places difficult to see in a patient’s mouth with traditional imaging. Just one more tool to aid your dentist in a thorough and accurate assessment of your dental condition.
These are just some of the technologies that have been brought into common use in recent years in our dental offices. Every year we keep an eye out for new methods of treating our patient’s dental concerns by improving visibility, reducing discomfort, and aiding us in providing complete and thorough assessments. If you have any questions about the technology your dentist is using in your exams, don’t hesitate to ask! Curious patients are educated patients, and we love to encourage our patients to be knowledgeable about their dental care.
It can be used to remove stain from teeth.
Dr. Philp may recommend Invisalign as an option for improved tooth alignment for adolescents and adults. If you are a candidate for Invisalign, Dr. Philp typically refers to an Orthodontist, a dental specialist who is an expert in tooth movement, to ensure the most efficient results.
Traditional dentures are often ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and prone to embarrassing mishaps like slippage. Modern dental implants provide prosthetic teeth that are nearly indistinguishable from normal teeth and are long-lasting.
Dental bonding is a non-invasive procedure that adheres a composite (tooth colored) resin to the surface of your teeth. It helps to create a brighter, more aesthetically pleasing smile without the use of prosthetics like dentures and tooth implants.
This procedure is most commonly used to treat teeth that are cracked, decayed, or discolored. It can also be used to make teeth appear longer and close spacing between teeth.
Did you know?
Dental bonding is one of the most affordable and quick cosmetic procedures that can be done to improve the appearance of your smile. In fact, within one visit you could get a more attractive smile and a boost in self-confidence!
Dental bonding is a great option for individuals who want an attractive smile, but do not want to undergo an invasive procedure like dental implants. If you have minor chips, cracks, and fractures in your teeth, discolored teeth, or decay that can be built upon, dental bonding might be a great option for you.
Ultimately, it’s important to consult with the dentist to determine if you’re a candidate.
Teeth that have undergone dental bonding can still be stained from things like coffee and tea. To avoid this, it’s advisable to avoid drinking any of these beverages for at least 48 hours after undergoing the procedure. Additionally, you can extend the life of your bonding by brushing regularly and visiting the dentists every six months.
When properly cared for, dental bonding can last up to ten years. You’ll get the most out of it by following a healthy oral hygiene routine, avoiding hard candies and chewing on ice, and staying away from food and drink that could stain your teeth. If you happen to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, be sure to brush immediately afterward.
Dental sealants are clear coatings applied to the surfaces of a child’s molars to prevent the development of tooth decay. They work by preventing food and plaque from resting in the grooves and crevices of molars – an area especially susceptible to cavities. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children ages 6 to 12 currently have sealants on their teeth.
Did you know…
that sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years pediatric dental patients? Depending on a child’s oral development and risk factors for tooth decay, sealants may be applied to the teeth as young as age 6. It is at this time that the first molars typically appear. Additional molars erupt at approximately age 12. If possible, sealants should be applied to a child’s teeth immediately after any molar has appeared to reduce the risk of early decay.
Sealants bond directly to the teeth, where they harden to a clear or tooth-colored coat. This makes them virtually undetectable to others. Though it is normal to feel new sealants with the tongue, most children quickly adapt to their presence.
The process of getting sealants is fast and painless. The tooth is cleaned before the dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel. The sealant will immediately harden, acting as a barrier between bacteria and the chewing surface of the teeth. In most cases, sealants will last several years before needing to be reapplied. However, regular visits to the dentist will be necessary to monitor the condition of the sealants and examine their effectiveness.
While sealants are extremely effective for preventing tooth decay in children, they do not replace other forms of preventative oral health care. Children should still brush and floss each day using a fluoridated toothpaste. Regular dental exams and a balanced diet low in sugar are also essential for good long-term oral health.
Dentures are an effective and affordable way of replacing missing teeth. Composed of a durable plastic resin and sometimes porcelain, both partial and full dentures can be fabricated to look and feel natural. Today’s dentures are custom-fit to make it possible to eat foods with confidence and speak articulately. Depending on the patient’s preferences and budget, dentures can be crafted for maximum comfort and fracture resistance backed up by limited warranties.
Did you know…
that more than 60 percent of American adults are missing one or more teeth? Approximately 10 percent are missing all of their teeth – requiring a prosthetic solution that will restore function and aesthetics to their smiles. Many of those dental patients choose partial or full dentures to replace missing teeth. In fact, it is estimated that 35 million Americans currently wear partial or full dentures – a number that is only expected to rise as baby boomers begin to reach retirement.
You may be a candidate for dentures if you are missing one or more teeth and are in need of an affordable prosthetic solution. Most denture wearers find that partial and full dentures can restore much of their original tooth function – not to mention create a beautiful, natural-looking smile. To find out if dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.
If you have any decayed or damaged teeth that need to be removed, they will be extracted before your dentist takes a mold of your remaining gum structure, as well as the roof of your mouth. This mold will be sent to a dental lab for denture fabrication. When the completed dentures are completed, you will return to your dentist for a final fitting.
Yes. Dentures are removable prosthetics that will need to be cleaned and brushed daily. You should also brush your gums daily to prevent infections caused by bacteria. Your dentures should be kept in water when they aren’t in use to prevent them from warping. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to dentures as you learn how to use the muscles in your cheeks and tongue to keep them in place. But over time, you should begin to feel more comfortable with your new prosthetics.
A bite guard is a dental appliance custom-fit to a patient’s teeth. Bite guards serve varying purposes and are often recommended for use in patients of all ages. It is important that bite guards be professionally fit, rather than purchased over the counter, as this ensures maximum comfort and protection during wear. Professional dental guards are usually prepared in a dental lab using an oral impression taken in a dentist’s office. These guards are created uniquely to each patient to prevent discomfort, slippage or inadequate protection. There are many reasons why a dentist would prescribe a mouth guard to a patient. They include:
Did you know?
Caring for a dental bite guard is simple. You’ll need to rinse it before and after every usage using a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste and cold water. From time to time, cleanse it with cold water and a mild soap. When not in use, store your mouth guard in a hard, ventilated container and keep it away from hot temperatures that could cause your guard to warp.
You absolutely need to be fit for a custom bite guard if you participate in sports or activities that put your oral health at risk. These guidelines also apply to children, who often play sports like football or participate in activities like martial arts, which can cause tooth-related injuries. You may also need a bite guard if your dentist diagnosis you with bruxism, or tooth-grinding. Over time, grinding or clenching the teeth can lead to wear and irreversible damage. Sleeping with a bite guard can protect the teeth from these unwanted side effects.
Being fit for a bite guard is simple. You’ll visit your dentist, who will take an impression of your teeth and send it off to a dental laboratory. The lab will carefully construct a durable and comfortable new bite guard that you can pick up at your dentist’s office in just days.
Yes. Although custom bite guards are made of durable materials and designed to last through many uses, they do need to be replaced from time to time. Keep an eye on your bite guard, checking it frequently for wear. Also, bring it with you to your normal dental cleanings and check-ups for a professional inspection. Be sure to tell your dentist if your bite guard no longer offers an optimal fit or if it has become uncomfortable to wear.
Like a bridge, partial dentures rest on surrounding teeth to fill in the gaps where one or more teeth are missing. But unlike a bridge, partial dentures are fully removable by the wearer. Partials are affordable alternatives to other types of dental prosthetics and are custom-made to blend in with each patient’s natural teeth. It takes a little time to adapt to new partials, but many people find that they reclaim much of their original function and aesthetics with partial dentures in place.
Did you know?
Partial dentures require gentle care and frequent cleaning. Once you get your new partial dentures, you’ll need to:
- Keep them moist at all times by soaking them in a denture solution when not in use
- Gently brush your dentures daily using a soft-bristled tooth brush
- Be careful not to drop your partial dentures, as they may break
- Avoid exposing your partial to hot temperatures that could cause warping
You may be a candidate for partial dentures if you have one or more missing teeth, and the space they once filled is surrounded by other teeth or permanent restorations. To find out more about whether partial dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.
If you decide to get a partial denture, you’ll need to visit your dentist to have metal clasps attached to your surrounding teeth and an impression made of the area your partial will fill. The impression will be sent to a dental lab, where a technician will fabricate a custom denture that includes a gum-colored base that will fit securely over your gums. A metal framework will be used to attach your new partial to the clasps on your natural teeth to ensure a secure fit.
Yes. Good oral health is still important – even if you have a few missing teeth. In addition to caring for your new dental prosthetic, you’ll also need to brush your gums and tongue twice daily to stimulate circulation and remove bacteria that could cause gum disease. Continue seeing your dentist twice yearly for exams and cleanings, and be sure to bring your partial dentures along to each visit. After a few years, you may find that your partial needs to be rebased to better fit the changes to the bone structure in your mouth.
Provisional restorations are often used during complex restorative dental procedures to serve as temporary prosthetic replacements while patients wait for a permanent restoration. Provisional restorations offer patients to try-out the look and feel of the final prosthetic and make any necessary changes before the final fabrication and fitting. Unlike temporary prosthetics of the past, modern provisional restorations are highly functional and aesthetically pleasing. Today’s temporaries are composed of a quality acrylic resin that mimics the look and feel of permanent metal or ceramic restorations.
Did you know…
Provisional restorations are a primary component of smile reconstructions. In addition to serving cosmetic purposes for patients with missing or damaged teeth, dental temporaries provide the following functions:
- Reserving’ space for the permanent restoration by preventing surrounding tooth movement
- Protecting reduced natural teeth that are prepped for restorations
- Preserving the health and natural contours of the gums surrounding the restoration
- Protecting exposed dentin from bacteria and plaque
- Preventing tooth sensitivite
- Facilitating normal eating and speaking
You may need a provisional restoration if you are preparing to get a new crown, bridge, veneers, dental implants or some other permanent restoration. Temporaries may be put in place to ensure you are pleased with the aesthetics and fit of your new prosthetic. You may also be fit for a provisional restoration while you wait for a dental lab to finalize your permanent ones.
Temporaries are constructed in a dental laboratory using impressions and digital images of your teeth. The lab will produce a ‘wax-up’ that you will approve before the temporaries are fabricated. Your dentist will prepare your teeth for the provisional restorations and temporarily attach them to your teeth, where they will remain until you are ready for your permanent restorations.
You may need to wear your temporaries for just a few days or for several months depending on the type of dental reconstruction you are undergoing. Temporaries formed in place of crowns or veneers may only need to be worn for a few days to a few weeks, whereas dental implant and full-mouth reconstruction patients will need to wear provisional restorations for several months while the gums heal and the implants fuse with surrounding bone. Keep in mind that provisional restorations are less durable than permanent ones and are placed using provisional cement. Because it is possible for them to shift or become damaged, you should be careful to follow your dentist’s guidelines for caring for your temporaries – including using good oral hygiene, abiding by dietary restrictions, and using protective mouth gear during sports or high impact activity.
Tooth extractions are routine dental procedures used to remove decayed, damaged or otherwise problematic teeth. Dentists usually make every effort to preserve natural teeth, although sometimes an extraction is necessary. Although the procedure is performed in a dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office, it is considered surgery. Depending on which teeth are removed, they may be replaced with a dental implant or another oral prosthetic.
There are several reasons why you could need a tooth extraction.
The most common cause of tooth extractions is severe tooth decay and cavities. However, many patients also undergo extractions for impacted teeth – particularly wisdom teeth. Other causes for extraction include advanced periodontal disease, cracked teeth, and teeth that are severely malformed. Although many circumstances that require extraction are unavoidable, some could be prevented with regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings.
Only your dentist can tell you if you need a tooth extraction. However, you may be a candidate for the procedure if one or more of your teeth are decayed so severely that a filling or others restoration is not a possibility for treatment.
If you and your dentist decide to extract one or more teeth, you will be scheduled to return for oral surgery at a later date. You will be given a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure, and you may be prescribed medications to help manage pain in the hours following your extraction. Depending on the nature of your extraction and other factors, such as whether your teeth are impacted, you may also be sedated or given general anesthesia during your procedure.
Post-operative care following a tooth extraction is essential for healing and preventing complications. You will be instructed to avoid certain foods and also keep the surgical site clean at all times. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that you complete the course of treatment to prevent infection. Finally, you may be advised to avoid smoking or drinking through a straw, as doing so may delay the healing process and cause a condition known as ‘dry socket.’
Dental mouth guards have long been used to protect the teeth, gums and supporting tissues from damage, injury and trauma. There are two types of sports mouth guards – over the counter and custom. While OTC guards are helpful for occasional use, many dental patients require the benefit of a customized dental mouth guard fitted by a dentist to effectively prevent injury.
Caring for your new custom mouth guard is simple.
The American Dental Association recommends keeping protected in a sturdy container in between usage. You should also be careful to clean your mouth guard after use and occasionally soak it in cool, soapy water for thorough sanitation. Custom dental mouth guards are designed for durability, but it is important to check your mouth guard for signs of wear every few months. Mouth guards for children and teens must be replaced frequently to account for growing jaws and changes to the teeth.
There are many reasons why wearing a dental mouth guard could be right for you. A few examples include:
Your visit will consist of taking an impression of your teeth that will be used as a mold for your new mouth guard. You may even be able to leave your dental appointment with your custom mouth guard in-hand.
Before you leave your dentist’s office with your new mouth guard, you’ll receive instructions on how and when to wear it. If you suffer from TMJ disorders or bruxism, for example, you will likely wear your mouth guard at night. If you participate in recreational sports, however, you may only need to wear your mouth guard during physical activity.
Preventative care is a foundation of dentistry. The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist regularly – usually about twice yearly – for full cleanings, examinations, and consultations for potential treatment. Professional dental cleanings help remove built-up plaque that is not removable using conventional brushing and flossing. Often, dentists are also capable of identifying potential problems that patients are not yet able to see or feel. When you maintain regular preventative dental appointments, you can stave off decay and gum disease, as well as identify the beginnings of oral health problems before they become severe.
Did you know…
that Americans are less and less likely to visit the dentist as they age? Data from the Centers for Disease Control reports that only 57 percent of Americans over age 65 visited the dentist in 2010. That compares to about 61 percent adults under age 65 and about 79 percent of children ages 2 to 17. Nonetheless, it is important to visit the dentist for cleanings and exams regardless of how long has passed since your most recent dental appointment.
Yes. Even if you brush and floss after every meal and before bed, bacteria-harboring plaque can accumulate in the tiniest crevices, grooves and pits. Overtime, the teeth will begin to decay in those areas, which may result in pain and partial or total tooth loss.
Your cleaning and consultation will consist of a visible examination of the teeth and gums. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may also require x-rays for a more comprehensive view of your teeth. You’ll also consult with your dentist about any oral health problems you may have been having or questions that you may have. The cleaning will follow, during which a dental hygienist will use special instruments to remove hardened plaque from your teeth. Finally, your teeth will be polished before your dentist discusses any treatment recommendations he or she may have for you.
In between dental cleanings and consultations, be sure to maintain good oral habits at home. This includes daily flossing and brushing after meals. It’s also important to drink fluoridated water and use a fluoridated toothpaste.