Emergency Treatment | Fillings | Oral Cancer Screenings | Periodontal (Gum) Disease Therapy
Pediatric Dentistry | Professional Teeth Cleanings | Root Canal Treatment | Sealants | TMJ~TMD Treatment | Tooth Extractions
If you have a life-threatening or severe injury, call 911 or go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room. We can treat a variety of traumatic dental injuries, including teeth that have been chipped, moved, or knocked out entirely. Please call our office for assistance.
Fillings do just what the name implies — seal a small hole in your tooth, i.e., a cavity, caused by decay. This prevents the decay (a bacteria-induced infection) from spreading further into your tooth and, if untreated, continue on to the sensitive inner pulp (nerve) tissue located in the root canal. Should that happen, you would need root canal treatment.
There are a variety of materials used to fill teeth these days, but the process of filling a tooth is similar regardless. The first step is a clinical exam of the tooth with x-rays, to determine the extent of the decay. Then the decayed area of the tooth is removed, usually with a handheld instrument such as a dental drill.
Of course, your tooth will be anesthetized first, so you won't feel any discomfort. If you normally feel nervous about receiving numbing injections, it's possible that taking an anti-anxiety medication or using nitrous oxide can help you feel more relaxed. After removing the decay, the remaining tooth structure is roughened or “etched” with a mildly acidic solution; then translucent cement is applied to bond the tooth and the filling material together.
Oral Cancer Screening
It's estimated that in the United States, oral cancer is responsible for killing one person every hour, every day. While it accounts for a relatively small percentage of all cancers, oral cancer is dangerous because it isn't usually detected until it has reached an advanced stage. At that point, the odds aren't great: only about 6 in 10 people will survive after five years of treatment. If there was a simple test that could give you an early warning about whether you're likely to have this disease, would you take it?
The good news is — there is! Since early detection has been shown to increase the survival rate of oral cancer to 80% or better, this test can truly save lives. And best of all, having an oral cancer screening is part of something you should be doing anyway: getting regular dental checkups. Oral cancer used to be thought of as an older person's disease, and it still mostly affects those over 40. But today, younger people form the fastest-growing segment among oral cancer patients.
This is primarily due to the spread of the sexually-transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16). Of course, the other major risk factors still apply: If you're middle aged or older, a moderate to heavy drinker or a long-time tobacco user, you have a greater chance of developing oral cancer. Chronic exposure to the sun, long known to cause skin cancer, is also associated with cancers of the lips. Genetic factors are thought to have a major impact on who gets the disease as well.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
It is not a given that we must lose teeth as we age. If we maintain good oral hygiene and have regular professional cleanings and oral examinations, chances are we can keep our natural teeth for life. That involves not only caring for the teeth themselves, but also the structures that surround them: the gums and tooth-supporting bone. Gum disease, which is a bacterial infection, threatens these supporting tissues. That is why dental professionals are always on the lookout for early signs that patients may not notice. When signs of trouble become apparent, periodontal therapy may be suggested.
Periodontal therapy can take various forms, but the goal is always to restore diseased tissues to health. Gum (periodontal) disease can spread from the gums to the bone that supports the teeth, and may even cause tooth loss in the most severe cases. There are very effective therapies to combat this, ranging from scalings (deep cleanings) that remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from beneath the gum line, to surgical repair of lost gum and bone tissue.
Periodontal Therapy Procedures
Scaling and Root Planing.
These deep-cleaning techniques are the best starting point to control gum disease. Plaque and calculus (tartar)are removed from beneath the gum tissues, using hand scalers and/or ultrasonic instruments.
Sometimes it's necessary to replace areas of lost gum tissue so that tooth roots are adequately protected.
This can be accomplished by taking healthy gum tissue from one area of the mouth and
moving it to where it is needed, or by using laboratory-processed donor tissue.
Periodontal Plastic Surgery
When used to describe surgery, the word “plastic” refers to any reshaping procedure
that createsa more pleasing appearance of the gum tissues.
Crown Lengthening Surgery
This is a surgical procedure in which tooth structure that is covered by gum and bone tissue may need
to be exposed either for cosmetic reasons(too make the teeth look longer and
the smile less gummy) or to aid in securing a new dental crown.
Today's preferred method of tooth replacement is a titanium dental implant, which is placed beneath
the gum line and into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. The implant is then
attached to a realistic-looking dental crown that is visible above the gum line
and indistinguishable from a natural tooth.
At Erickson Dental Care we're here for you for all your dental needs from childhood to adulthood!
Majority of children are born fearless or it may seem so to parents so it's safe to say they aren't born with a natural fear of the scary dentist, but they can fear what they simply don't know! Hygiene for children is incredibly important in setting the foundation for the longevity of their teeth and gums.
We at Erickson Dental Care encourage children as young as one visiting us at least twice a year for routine check-ups, cleanings, and examinations where they can enjoy a positive child-friendly experience with our caring dental team while getting comfortable at an early age with the dentist and developing proper dental routines! When they can leave our office happy, we are starting children off on the right path to keeping their smile and oral hygiene flawless for the long haul!
Professional Teeth Cleanings
Even if you brush and floss your teeth faithfully, it is important that you have your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. (Of course, if you aren't quite so meticulous about your oral hygiene, it's even more important!) After a thorough cleaning, your teeth will feel smooth and squeaky-clean, and they will probably look a lot brighter too.
But professional teeth cleanings aren't done for looks alone. Over time they tend to build up a layer of plaque (a sticky, bacteria-rich film) and hard deposits (called tartar, or calculus) that are very difficult to remove without special tools. When these deposits are allowed to remain on the tooth surfaces or below the gum line, they provide ideal conditions for bacteria to grow and multiply.
The acids produced by some bacteria cause tooth decay and gum disease; if left uncontrolled, this can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums, and possibly influence systemic (whole body) diseases. Most people don't feel any noticeable discomfort during dental cleanings; some even report they enjoy the experience, especially the dramatic results when it's done!
If you haven't had a cleaning in a while, however, it may take you a few moments to get used to getting your teeth cleaned. If you experience any discomfort, however, it may be possible to apply a topical numbing gel or another type of anesthetic.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment — also called endodontics (“endo” – inside, “dont” – tooth) — is a set of specialized procedures designed to treat problems of the soft pulp (nerve) tissue inside the tooth.
While some mistakenly think of it as an unusually painful treatment, in most cases the procedure is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. It's actually one of the most effective ways of relieving some kinds of tooth pain.
A root canal procedure becomes necessary when infection or inflammation develops in the pulp tissue of the tooth. Pulp tissue consists of blood vessels, connective tissue and nerve cells — which explains why a problem here may cause you to feel intense pain. In time, the pain may go away... at least temporarily.
Without treatment, however, the infection won't. It can lead to a dental abscess, and may even contribute to systemic problems in other parts of the body.
The most likely location for a cavity to develop in your child's mouth is on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Run your tongue over this area in your mouth, and you will feel the reason why: These surfaces are not smooth, as other areas of your teeth are. Instead, they are filled with tiny grooves referred to as “pits and fissures,” which trap bacteria and food particles. The bristles on a toothbrush can't always reach all the way into these dark, moist little crevices. This creates the perfect conditions for tooth decay.
What's more, a child's newly erupted permanent teeth are not as resistant to decay as adult teeth are. The hard enamel coating that protects the teeth changes as it ages to become stronger. Fluoride, which is found in toothpaste and some drinking water — and in treatments provided at the dental office — can strengthen enamel, but, again, it's hard to get fluoride into those pits and fissures on a regular basis. Fortunately, there is a good solution to this problem: dental sealants.
Dental sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings that smooth out the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, making them resistant to decay. A sealed tooth is far less likely to develop a cavity, require more expensive dental treatment later on, or, most importantly, cause your child pain.
If you experience ongoing pain in the area near your ear, your jaw or the muscles on the side of your face, possibly accompanied by a clicking or popping sound or restricted jaw movement, you may be suffering from TMD — an abbreviation for Temporomandibular disorders. Sometimes people incorrectly use the term TMJ to refer to these problems, when in fact TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint — or jaw joint — itself. So while you definitely have a TMJ (two of them in fact), you may or may not have TMD.
TMD, then, describes a group of conditions characterized by pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding it. It's not always so easy to figure out exactly what's causing these symptoms, but the good news is that most TMD cases resolve themselves with the help of conservative remedies that you can try at home. In fact, it's important to exhaust all such reversible remedies before moving on to anything irreversible, such as bridgework or surgery.
The two TMJs that connect your lower jaw, the mandible, to the temporal bone of the skull on either side, are actually very complex joints that allow movement in three dimensions. The lower jaw and temporal bone fit together as a ball and socket, with a cushioning disk in between. Large pairs of muscles in the cheeks and temples move the lower jaw. Any of these parts — the disk, the muscles or the joint itself — can become the source of a TMD problem. If you are in pain or are having difficulty opening or closing your jaw, a thorough examination can help pinpoint the problem area; then an appropriate remedy can be recommended.
The main goal of dentistry is to preserve your natural teeth and keep them healthy for as long as possible. There are times, however, when it is in your best interest (or your child's) to have a tooth extracted (removed). This could be the case for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you have a tooth that has been severely damaged by trauma or decay; or an impacted wisdom tooth that may cause trouble for you later on. Maybe your teenager will soon undergo orthodontic treatment and has insignificant space for his adult teeth, referred to as crowding. Or your younger child has a baby tooth that's stubbornly adhering, even though it's past time for it to go.
Whatever the reason, tooth extraction is more often than not a very routine procedure. How straightforward this minor surgery is will depend on where the tooth to be extracted is located in the mouth, and what its roots are like. For example, a front tooth with a single straight root is easier to remove than a molar with multiple roots. This is especially true when that molar is a wisdom tooth that is impacted, meaning it is below the surface surrounded by gum tissue and bone. Often, a wisdom tooth is blocked from fully erupting (growing in) by other teeth in its path.
Still, tooth extraction is nothing to be feared when done by an experienced hand. Keep in mind that a tooth is not rigidly fixed in its surrounding bone, though that's how some may picture it. In fact, it is attached to the bone via a network of fibers that form what's known as the periodontal ligament. By carefully manipulating the tooth, these fibers can be detached, and the tooth freed without much trouble.
As mentioned above, there can be a variety of reasons for extracting a tooth. Be sure to ask questions about the pros and cons of any dental treatment, including extraction.
If a baby tooth is out of position or not lost in the right sequence, the permanent tooth underneath it might not erupt normally. In this case, removing the baby tooth could prevent a need for orthodontic treatment later on.
Trauma or Disease
In both of these situations, there are several ways to try and save the tooth. The damaged tooth might need a full-coverage crown, a root canal treatment, or both. But sometimes even these methods are not enough to keep the tooth functioning well and looking good; it might be better to remove the tooth and replace it with a strong and lifelike dental implant.