Procedure Information

Thank you for allowing us to care for you. American Family Dentistry wants you to feel as comfortable as possible before your next appointment. Below you will find a list of common dental procedures with more specific information regarding your dental hygiene to better prepare you for your next visit.

 

Crowns

A tooth may need a crown if it is cracked, fractured or weak. Crowns are also typically placed after a tooth has had a root canal in order to make sure the tooth stays strong. Crowns are also sometimes used on front teeth in order to change the shape or color.

The process of getting a crown usually involves two appointments. The first appointment is the longer of the two. The dentist will begin by numbing the tooth like many other dental procedures so that you are comfortable during treatment. The dentist will then begin by reshaping the tooth so there is room for the crown to fit completely over the tooth. Sometimes, a "build-up" is also done on the tooth in order to make sure the middle of the tooth is strong and healthy. The crown ultimately will act like a suit of armor over the tooth and, once it has been finished, it will return the tooth to its ideal size and shape. Once the tooth has been shaped, the dentist or assistant will get the tooth ready for an impression using a special material to make a mold of the tooth being worked on as well as all of the neighboring teeth. Finally, a temporary crown will be made and placed on your tooth to protect it while the permanent crown is being made.

Between the first and second appointments, the impression is then sent to a dental lab where they will make a customized crown to fit your tooth. The crown can be all-metal (a yellow or white gold, very durable), all-porcelain (tooth-colored, very esthetic), or a combination of both metal and porcelain (esthetic and durable). Once completed, the dental lab will return the finished custom crown to your dentist.

At the second appointment, the temporary crown will be removed and the permanent will be placed on the tooth and adjusted. Once it has been determined the crown fits good, feels good and looks good, it is put into place. This appointment usually does not require any anesthetic. The final crown is permanent and is not meant to come off. Normal brushing and flossing afterwards will help make sure that the crown will last a long time.

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Braces

Typically, an initial consult appointment will be made for you or your child with one of our orthodontists. There is normally no charge for this initial consult. On your first visit, we will evaluate your orthodontic needs, determine if treatment is needed and estimate the length and cost of the treatment. If we determine your treatment should begin at a later date, due to insufficient development, we will suggest periodic visits to our office until you are ready for treatment.

When you are ready to begin your orthodontic treatment a "Diagnostic Records" appointment will be scheduled to obtain the necessary information to formulate a precise diagnosis and treatment plan. Providing our patients with the highest quality and affordable orthodontics has been our fundamental goal for years. Which means our focus everyday is to see you receive all the special care and attention that quality orthodontic treatment demands.

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Gum Disease

There are two main types of gum disease that can affect an individual: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the basic form of disease where only the gums are inflamed. Periodontitis is the advanced form of gum disease where, not only are the gums inflamed, but the bone and the other supporting structures around the teeth have become affected.

Gingivitis is treated by a routine cleaning (known as a dental prophylaxis). This procedure involves removing plaque, stain and tartar from above the gumline. In gingivitis, the pockets normally found between the gum and the tooth are typically less than 3mm (about an 1/8 of an inch). At this depth, routine brushing and flossing can adequately reach the bottom of the pocket in order to keep it clean. Once this procedure is completed and brushing and flossing has been established, the inflamed gums usually get better. Even for someone with healthy gums, a dental cleaning is recommended every 6 months in order to prevent the occurrence of gingivitis.

Periodontitis is a more serious condition with pockets deeper than 3mm and involvement of the supporting structures around the teeth leading to bone resorption and gum recession. When a pocket becomes deeper than 3mm, it becomes nearly impossible to remove the material that gets trapped despite even the best brushing and flossing. Periodontitis can affect all of a person’s teeth or just a few. Once periodontitis has been diagnosed, a routine cleaning is no longer capable of treating the disease. (Remember: a routine cleaning focuses from the gumline up; with periodontitis, the problem involves deep pockets under the gums).

Treatment of periodontitis typically begins with a procedure known as a scaling and root planing (also called “a deep cleaning”). The differences between a scaling and root planing and a routine cleaning are that a scaling and root planing usually takes 2 appointments to complete the entire mouth, each visit lasts longer and the procedure focuses on cleaning under the gums in order to remove all the material from the pockets. The area will be numbed so you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The dental hygienist will take detailed measurements of the depth of the pockets around each tooth so they can later re-evaluate to note any improvement. Often, a slow-releasing antibiotic can be placed directly in deeper pockets so the healing process can be more successful.

You may be given a prescription mouthwash to help with healing or a prescription fluoride to help with sensitivity. The hygienist will look forward to having you return in 30 days so to re-measure the pockets and evaluate healing. At that point, you will be placed in a maintenance program. Periodontitis is a condition that cannot be cured but hopefully can be controlled (like high blood pressure or diabetes). Every 3 to 4 months, you will come in for a periodontal maintenance cleaning where a very thorough, limited deep cleaning will occur and the pockets will be re-evaluated. Sometimes, if an area does not want to heal and becomes slowly worse, you may be referred to one of our periodontists (a gum specialist).

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Root Canal

Root canals are typically performed on a tooth that has damage to the nerve and blood vessels found inside the tooth (area of the tooth known as the pulp). The pulp can become damaged due to a deep cavity, a cracked tooth, long-term grinding or trauma. Without treatment, the damaged nerve can become infected which may lead to swelling and pain. A root canal is a great option instead of extracting the tooth.

A root canal removes the damaged nerve and blood vessels from the inside of the tooth, the canals (where the pulp is located inside the tooth) are cleaned and shaped and the space inside the tooth is sealed. The benefit is the outer part of the tooth remains intact and, after any cracks or cavities are repaired, the tooth is still functional.

The majority of root canals can be completed by one of our general dentists. However, sometimes, if a tooth has a canal that is curved severely or is calcified or if a tooth is located too far in the back of the mouth, your general dentist may refer you to one of our endodontists (root canal specialist).

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