Regular Exam and Cleaning
Regular exams are a crucial part of keeping your oral health. During your visit, we will:
- Take a close, careful look at all of your teeth for problems you might have missed.
- Determine whether you have any tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis, and other periodontal diseases.
- Thoroughly clean your teeth.
The exam and cleaning will take 35-45 minutes, depending on each individual case. In other words, we will ensure that we leave you in the best condition, and with thorough information on your teeth.
Also, it's recommended that you schedule a regular exam every six months to ensure your mouth is as healthy as can be. If you're due for a visit, feel free to call us and schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience!
Bonding means the repair of crooked, cracked, or discolored teeth. It works by placing a "filling" on your tooth that improves its appearance by camouflaging any wear and tear. It is an inexpensive option that can replace the need for a silver amalgam if you'd prefer something with a more natural look. In fact, the fillings come in a range of colors that mimic your natural teeth.
Please note that though bonding is less expensive and able to be completed in one day, they are very fragile compared to other cosmetic treatments. However, if your fillings do break, please inform Dr. Monterrey and her staff as early as possible and we'll be happy to repair it.
Bridges refer to replacing natural teeth with artificial teeth. They are usually used for one of three purposes:
- Replacing a missing tooth to improve a smile's appearance
- Removing stress from your bite
- Maintaining the shape of your face by providing additional support
They can be made from a number of materials, including porcelain and alloys, and are fitted into the empty areas by bonding them to neighboring teeth. As a result, proper dental care is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the bridge as you need to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
Crowns refer to a restorative procedure that is used to either strengthen or alter the shape of a tooth. A crown is a sort of end-cap that is cemented onto your preexisting tooth, that has usually been broken, worn, or affected by cavities. They are usually made with metal, porcelain, or a combination of the two, with porcelain being the most popular choice.
It also worth knowing that crowns are not fillings. A crown is made-to-order out of a tooth impression that allows our clinic to analyze all the aspects of your mouth, including your bite, for the most precise solution, where a filling is created on the tooth itself.
Dentures are replacement teeth with the ability to be removed. There are two types of dentures, being full and partial dentures:
- Partial: Attached to a metal frame that are connected to remaining teeth in order to fill a gap, much like a bridge
- Full: When the patient no longer has any teeth, a full denture mimics a functional, realistic mouth full of teeth
It is key to remember that dentures need to be cared for like actual teeth. They need to be brushed or cleaned daily and kept in water to preserve them. Also, it is crucial to have your gums and mouth clean before putting on dentures.
An extraction refers to a necessary tooth removal that may be due a number of reasons, including tooth decay that is putting other teeth in your mouth at risk. Your doctor will recommend an extraction only if she truly feels that it is necessary, and will recommend the option of a replacement with either a bridge or an implant as additional problems might arise from a missing tooth. Other reasons for an extraction are:
- Orthodontic corrections
- Wisdom teeth
Your dentist is able to extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is within your jawbone in a “tooth socket," where it is held by a ligament. In order to extract the tooth, your dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament. While this procedure is usually quick, please feel free to tell your doctor about any fears, concerns, or requests for sedation.
Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, are most often made of silver amalgam. The strength and durability of this traditional dental material makes it useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, often in the back of the mouth.
Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, but they can also be used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.
There are two different kinds of fillings: direct and indirect. Direct fillings are fillings placed into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include silver amalgam, glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, and veneers. They are used when a tooth has too much damage to support a filling but not enough to necessitate a crown.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months.
If you are missing teeth, it is crucial to replace them. Without all your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing, your mouth can shift and even cause your face to look older. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth, and if properly maintained, can last a lifetime!
An implant is a new tooth made of metal and porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth. It’s composed of two main parts: one part is the titanium implant body that takes the place of the missing root, and the second part is the tooth-colored crown that is cemented on top of the implant. With implant treatment, you can smile confidently knowing no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth.
In addition to tooth replacement, implants may be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. For patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace missing teeth so you have a more natural-looking smile.
Whether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect your teeth and gums from injury. If you participate in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that you wear a mouthguard. Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from your dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent you from breathing properly. Your dentist can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.
If you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you may have a common condition called “bruxism.” Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by your dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.
In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you'd probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called “root canal treatment,” your tooth can be saved. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your jawbones, but it is also detrimental to your overall health.
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems with the nerves of the teeth) removes the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If your tooth has extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in-between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your sealants come off, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.
You no longer need to hide your smile because of gaps, chips, stains, or misshapen teeth. With veneers, you can easily correct your teeth’s imperfections to help you have a more confident, beautiful smile. Veneers are natural in appearance, and they are a perfect option for patients wanting to make minor adjustments to the look and feel of their smile.
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made from tooth-colored materials (such as porcelain), and they are designed to cover the front side of your teeth. To prepare for veneers, your doctor will create a unique model of your teeth. This model is sent to the dental technician to create your veneers. Before placing your new veneer, your doctor may need to conservatively prepare your tooth to achieve the desired aesthetic result.
When your veneers are placed, you’ll be pleased to see that they look like your natural teeth. While veneers are stain-resistant, your doctor may recommend that you avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco to maintain the beauty of your new smile.
Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. They usually appear in the late teens or early twenties, but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.
Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth's roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.
In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, your dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone. Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Your dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.