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Cape Coral
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Common Procedures

Topics on this page

Regular Exams and Cleanings | Bonding | Bridges | Crowns | Dentures | Extractions | Fillings | Fluoride | Implant Restoration | Mouthguards | Nightguards | Root Canals | Sealants | Veneers | Wisdom Teeth

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Regular Exams and Cleanings

Regular exams and cleanings are the foundation of maintaining your best oral health. Your regular exam and cleaning will take about 45 minutes.

During a regular exam and cleaning, we will:

  • Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease

During your regular teeth cleaning, we will clean, polish, and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth's surface.

Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your next dental exam and teeth cleaning. Please be sure to specify that you are scheduling for a routine exam plus a regular cleaning when you call to schedule.

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Dental bonding exampleBonding is a method for repairing slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed on your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.

Tooth bonding can also be used for fillings instead of silver amalgam. Patients often prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than silver. Bonded fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.

Bonding is more affordable than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in a single visit. However, bonding can stain and breaks more easily than other cosmetic treatments, such as porcelain veneers. If your bond breaks or chips, be sure to contact your dentist as soon as possible. It can generally be easily patched or repaired in one visit.

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dental bridgeA bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, and alleviate stress on your bite.

A bridge gets its name from bridging the the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Bridges may be made of gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.  The bridge is bonded onto the surrounding teeth for support.

The success of any bridge depends on its foundation: the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. Therefore, it’s very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong.

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Dental crownCrowns, also called caps, are used to restore teeth by  improving the shape or to strengthening it. Crowns are typically used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions that have been destroyed by decay.

A crown is a “cap” cemented onto the tooth and usually covering the portion of your tooth above the gum line. The crown effectively becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns may be made of porcelain, metal, or both. Porcelain crowns are generally preferred because they are very strong and look most like natural teeth.

When there is not enough tooth strength to hold a filling, your dentist may use crowns or onlays (partial crowns) to restore your tooth. Your dentist will take an impression of your tooth and use that to create your crown. Using that impression, the dental laboratory technician can to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements to ensure your crown will fit you properly. Your crown is sculpted just for you so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once it is placed.

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Dentures modelDentures are natural-looking, removable replacement teeth. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are used when all of the natural teeth have been lost or removed. Partial dentures are attached to a metal frame that is connected to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been lost or removed.

Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be properly cared for. Use a gentle cleanser to brush your dentures, always keep them moist when they’re not in use, and be sure to keep your tongue and gums clean as well.

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Tooth extraction diagramThere are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. One situation when extraction is in order is when a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should so the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth. Another situation in which extraction may be the only option is when a tooth has so much decay it is at risk of spreading to the surrounding teeth. In this case, your dentist may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge or implant. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also lead to an extraction.

When a tooth needs to be removed, your dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket.” Your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract the tooth, your dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. Although this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to discuss any concerns or preferences for sedation with your dentist.

Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, your dentist may recommend that you replace the extracted tooth.

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Tooth filling diagramTraditional dental restoratives, also called fillings, are typically made of silver amalgam. The strength and durability of this 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, 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.

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Fluoride treatmentFluoride 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 takes just a few minutes. You need to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride, so you may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes after the treatment.  Depending on your oral health your doctor may recommend that you have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months.

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Implant Restoration

Implant restoration diagramWhen you lose a tooth, replacing it is critical to your oral health. When you are missing teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause 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 synthetic tooth made of metal and porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth. An implant has two main parts: the titanium implant body that takes the place of the missing root, and the tooth-colored crown that is cemented on top of the implant. Implant treatment enables you to smile with confidence, knowing no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth.

Implants can also 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 for a more natural-looking smile.

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Dental mouthguardProtecting your mouth when playing sports is essential, especially for those with braces. 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. There are three 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 correctly and help to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.

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Dental nightguardDo you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, orfind yourself clenching or grinding your teeth?  If so, you may have a common condition called “bruxism.”   Bruxism, or tooth grinding, often occurs when you are sleeping so many people aren't even aware they have the problem.  Left uncorrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.

Nighguards are an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism. Nightguards help prevent the wear and damage caused by tooth grinding 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.

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Root Canals

Root canal diagramBefore today's modern dental techniques, a tooth with a diseased nerve was typically extracted. Today “root canal treatment” can be used to save your tooth. 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 can also be harmful to your overall health.

The typical 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 infected or damaged tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If the tooth has extensive decay, your dentist may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking. If you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.

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Dental sealant diagramIn those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth, sometimes brushing and flossing along aren't enough to prevent decay. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in-between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If not properly cleaned or protected, 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 to and harden in the deep grooves on the 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.  However, every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis as appropriate.

Sealants last from three to five years.  However, 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.  If your sealants come off, be sure to let your dentist know so you can schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.

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Dental veneersIf you have gaps, chips, stains, or misshapen teeth, veneers can help you smile with confidence. Veneers enable easy correction of your teeth’s imperfections to help you have a more beautiful smile. Veneers are look natural and are a great 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).  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.

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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth diagramWisdom 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, gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain can develop. 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 most often extracted 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 embedded 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.