Dental Examinations

The dental exam is the time that the doctor visually examines you for any disease or problems that may exist with not just your teeth but also with your bone, jaw, TMJ, muscles, lips, tongue, and gums. The doctor will also use radiographs, scans and measurements obtained to determine the severity and extent of any disease or deformity. This is regularly done twice a year at your cleaning appointments but should be done at least once a year to renew any diagnosis and prescription made to receive treatment needed, including a cleaning. The doctor will then take the findings, create a diagnosis, and prescribe the best course of treatment with any alternative treatment options.

Teeth Cleanings

The type and frequency of cleanings is determined during the exam and varies depending of the person’s needs. The purpose of the cleaning is to remove build up of plaque and tarter, that is also known as calculus, which contains harmful bacteria, thus preventing future gum disease and cavities. It is recommended for most individuals with healthy gums and periodontal tissue to have a cleaning twice a year.

Digital Radiographs and Scans

These images, also known as X-rays, are used to help the doctor better determine the degree of severity of any disease and any developmental problems existing now or that may arise in the future. Digital radiographs and CBCT scans provide the lowest and safest levels of radiation. Our office follows the American Dental Associations guidelines for frequency of these images. (https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/x-rays)

Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums and bone around the teeth caused by bacteria that has colonized the plaque and calculus. Symptoms include bleeding and swelling of the gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. Findings of deep pocket measurements and bone loss showing longer teeth are common. Deep cleanings or Scaling and Root Planning is a type of cleaning that is first done to treat periodontal disease non-surgically. After the deep cleaning is performed it is recommended to return every 3-4 months for periodontal maintenance cleanings to make sure the gum disease stays under control. If the periodontal gum disease becomes too severe to just treat non-surgically then a referral to a periodontal specialist is made to see if gum or bone surgery will help improve the problem.

Oral Cancer Screenings

Usually done in conjunction with the dental exam. The doctor will visually, manually and with X-rays search for any abnormal lumps, bumps, lesions, growths, radiolucencies/ opacities and discolorations that may appear cancerous or pre-cancerous. A discussion of any cancer causing habits will help the doctor determine if biopsy is needed and monitor for complete resolution and/or reoccurrences.

Fillings

After a tooth cavity is removed and cleaned the hole made is then filled with a dental material that restores the function and form so that it can stay healthy. This material can be gold, white composite, porcelain or silver amalgam. The technique and cost depends on the material being used.

Crowns

A crown is a tooth shaped cap that covers the natural tooth in order to strengthen it so that the tooth does not fracture, or make the tooth more cosmetically pleasing. This is commonly done when the tooth has been weakened due to root canal treatment, tooth fracture, when there is not enough healthy tooth structure to hold in a larger filling, or to cover staining. Crown materials include gold, ceramics, porcelain, or a combination of metal and porcelain. The office may use an outside dental lab in fabricating the crown restoration.

Dental Implants

Becoming more and more common especially as we live longer are dental implant procedures which are done to restore just one or all the missing teeth. A dental implant is the next best thing to mimicking your real natural teeth. An implant is basically a titanium screw like fixture that is surgically placed in the jaw bone which acts like the root of the tooth so a crown, denture or hybrid restoration can be supported. The dentist will evaluate the bone and anatomy to make sure a dental implant will be successful. The dentist, working together with the surgeon, will make sure the procedure goes well from start to finish. You may need to have some type of temporary tooth made to wear during the healing phase. There may be 3-6 months of healing of the bone around the implant before the final crown is placed on the implant. It is very important to have good oral hygiene around dental implants and many times the dentist will recommend special hygiene tools such as a waterpik or electric toothbrush to help protect the investment of your new smile.

Teeth in a Day/ All-on-4

The All-on-4 treatment concept is a cost efficient, graftless solution that provides patients with a fixed full-arch prosthesis on the same day of surgery. Full-arch rehabilitation is accomplished with only four implants, two straight anterior implants and two implants tilted up to 45⁰ in the posterior. Immediate function is possible with a fixed provisional bridge for patients meeting criteria for immediate loading of the implants. Bone grafting is avoided by tilting the posterior implants, utilizing available bone.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is the use of many different combinations of techniques to enhance the beauty of ones teeth and smile. The use of white tooth colored materials such as resin composite bonding or porcelain/ceramics can help change the contours and shade of the teeth. Manipulation of the gum and smile line using Botox, fillers and surgery can change how much of the tooth shows when you smile. Even simple whitening products to bleach the teeth whiter will help give a more youthful and cosmetically pleasing appearance.

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers are thin, custom-made porcelain laminates that are bonded directly to the outer portion of the teeth that are seen when you smile. These are good options for closing gaps, enhance the shape, or change the color of teeth that do not respond well to whitening procedures. In the majority of cases, some level of tooth structure must be reduced for optimal results. To achieve a pleasing smile, dentists fabricate diagnostic mock-ups, which act as a tooth preparation guide before the fabrication of veneers. This allows the dentist to visualize the changes needed to be done on the patient’s teeth with respect to size, shape and proportion, it’s relation with gingival-contour, lip contour and smile line. Mock ups can be a great aid in fabricating preevaluation temporaries, which can give a preliminary evaluation to the esthetics, phonetics and teeth occlusion, in addition, it gives an opportunity to the clinicians to check if they need to do any corrections.

Root Canal Treatment

The inside of teeth contain living tissue called the pulp which consists of nerves, cells that lay down and create new tooth structure and blood vessels. When the nerve and pulp becomes irritated due to trauma or large decay that has progressed to the pulp the tooth may become very painful and need root canal treatment to save the tooth. Root canal treatment is the removal and cleaning of the canal inside the tooth. The root and coronal portion above the gums stays in place but now it is considered a ‘dead’ tooth. Although ‘dead’ the tooth can still be used and function just like your other teeth but with no nerve or pain anymore. After the root canal is completed it is standard practice to have a crown made to cover the tooth to insure long term success of the root canal treatment.

Extractions

Although as dentists we want and try to save as many teeth as we can, however, sometimes it is not feasible to do so and the tooth must come out. Some teeth such as the wisdom teeth are removed even before a problem occurs as a preventive measure. Other teeth are extracted due to severe periodontal disease or fracture due to cyclic fatigue. Whichever the case, when the need does occur to have a tooth extracted it can cause great anxiety. The doctor will discuss with you any fears that you may have and give you several options to help alleviate those fears. A referral to an oral surgeon to have the procedure done under general sedation is also an option for severe anxiety. Many times at the time of extraction a bone graft procedure may be recommended to help preserve bone at the extraction site so that the restoration such as an implant or bridge will be more successful and cosmetically pleasing.

Partial and Complete Dentures

If you have lost some or all of your natural teeth, dentures can replace the teeth that are missing and improve your quality of life. With a little practice, dentures can make eating and speaking easier. You can smile freely without feeling embarrassed. Dentures are a removable prosthesis that are custom fitted to your gums and can be taken out of your mouth. Just like any prosthesis it will take some time to get used to your new teeth. After many years of use the fit of your dentures may change due to loss of bone in the jaw and will likely need to be relined or remade.

Fixed Bridges

Dental bridges are a nonsurgical fixed permanent restoration option for replacing missing teeth. The technique is similar to doing a crown in that a tooth on each side of the missing tooth area will be crowned and a fake tooth is placed in the middle. Since it is a nonsurgical procedure, the finished restoration can be placed sooner than having to wait for healing as in a surgical implant procedure.

Smile and Lip Rejuvenation (using BOTOX,KYBELLA, PDO Threads and Fillers)

The lips AND teeth together are what creates a great smile. Smile rejuvenation is a combination of procedures that when done together can help you regain lost volume in the lips, jaw line and lower face, remove wrinkles and hydrate the skin, giving a more youthful appearance. This is accomplished by your dentist with not only whitening and fixing your teeth, but also with the use of dermal fillers, KYBELLA, PDO smoothing and lifting threads and/or BOTOX or other neuromodulators injected strategically into the lips, jaw line, face and skin. Please sit down with the dentist for a consultation to discuss what a smile rejuvenation procedure can do for you to help you look and feel better.

PRP/PRF

1st generation Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and 2nd generation Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF) is a therapy that uses the body’s own cells and growth factors drawn from the blood to help the hard and soft tissue at the surgical and injection site heal more rapidly and with less complications. How is PRP/PRF used in dentistry? 1)Mixed with bone graft to create a fibrin bony putty that is placed in the extraction socket or implant preparation site 2)Tooth implant bone healing and membranes 3)Gingival gum surgery 4)TMJ injections 5)Facial injections to rejuvenate skin and lips.

Sedation Dentistry

Dental anxiety is a common emotion that many people feel when visiting the dentist. It’s not just the fear of pain but all the sights and sounds that are accompanied with a visit to the dentist that come together to stimulate one’s fear of a particular procedure. Here at Lookout Mountain Family Dentistry we recognize that not everyone is the same and may need special attention and different techniques to receive the needed treatment. One of those techniques we use in our office to help give you comfort and relieve your fears is oral sedation at the time of your dental appointment. In the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the use of safe and effective sedation techniques with the aim of providing the needed care to patients without pain or anxiety.

After talking with the doctor about your dental concerns and reviewing your medical history to make sure you are a good candidate, an oral sedation dentistry plan to accomplish your goals can be presented. Most common is the use of nitrous oxide “laughing gas” and/or a combination of oral medications that will depress the level of consciousness to give a relaxed feeling and often a loss of memory of what happened. So don’t let fear of coming to the dentist prevent you from receiving the quality dental care that you need and want.

In Office and Take Home Teeth Whitening

As we age the tooth may become more discolored and darker in shade. This can be caused by the pigments in the food and drinks we consume staining the teeth and from the natural aging of the tooth over many years. Bleaching can be done to the teeth to restore the natural shade of the teeth or even go whiter than the natural shade, giving a more youthful and healthy appearance. The most common active ingredients in bleaching products are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which when used will break down to hydrogen peroxide. The effects of bleaching can last for several months, but may vary depending on lifestyle and diet. This is why it is important to continue to do touch up sessions every so often to continue having white bright teeth. Our office uses the Opalscence brand of whitening products which includes 1) in-office professional strength Boost which is chemically activated so there is no need for a light, 2) take home custom bleaching trays and syringes that you will do a little each day at home, or 3) the new GoTrays which are a one size fits all disposable tray. It may even benefit to do a combination of these 3 different products to get the desired results. Sensitivity is a known side effect of any bleaching product and can usually be keep to a minimum with lower percentage strength and/or lower frequency and time of wearing the trays.

TMJ Therapy

Temporomandibular Disorder is a condition, not a specific disease of the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint. Many patients may have some minor symptoms but are still able to function normally in eating and speaking. Specific signs and symptoms include pain in or around the ears, tender jaw muscles, clicking or popping in the jaw, inability to open or close, and headaches. There are several causes that are linked to TMD or even a combination of these conditions including trauma, disease of the muscles and/or bone such as arthritis, malocclusion, tooth grinding, anxiety and stress. TMD may come and go, or even worsen over time. The TMJ is often treated to help manage the symptoms rather than cure. Treatment usually involves a series of steps beginning with simple treatment first to evaluate the pain relief that works best for you. Changing simple daily habits to avoid strenuous muscle use and correct poor head and neck posture is usually discussed. Medicine to reduce pain and inflammation or Botox administration will help relax the muscles and give relief. A more common treatment is the use of a night guard splint to decrease clenching or grinding of the teeth. It is important to continue with follow up appointments with the dentist to make sure the disorder stays manageable. If the disorder progresses and becomes severe to a point that it has become difficult to function normally on a daily basis then a referral to a specialist for possible TMJ surgery to correct any bony defect or joint abnormality may be recommended.

Children’s Dentistry

Our office is considered a family dental office. As such we help promote the dental health of children as well as serve as educational resources for parents. It is recommended that a child’s first dental visit occur within six months after the presence of the first tooth or by a child’s first birthday. Children that have a dental home early will learn how to act in the chair and have less fear of the dentist as an adult. Early visits also called happy visits may only consist of the child meeting the dentist and the dentist looking in the mouth for a visual inspection of any growth abnormalities, application of fluoride, and diet counseling. Early detection is essential to maintain oral health, modify aberrant habits, and treat as needed and as simply as possible. With each visit the child becomes more and more familiar with the expectations of the dental visits and will behave better and better each time.

Dental Emergencies

Relieving pain caused by a problem tooth is one of our first priorities, as such we strive to have you come in to be seen by the doctor as soon as possible. If it is after hours, then please call our emergency line that is given on the office voice mail message.

Sports Dentistry and Custom Fitted Mouthguards

Sports dentistry starts by preventing accidents that may damage the teeth or jaw. Sports such as boxing, MMA, football, basketball, hockey, and lacrosse will usually require mouth guard use. A professionally made custom fitted mouth guard will allow a better fit so the athlete can talk and breathe more easily, as well as have the proper thickness in needed areas. The best mouth guard is the one that fits properly and is worn regularly. Treating a sports related dental injury can cost a lot of money and cause missed time practicing and playing.

Here at Lookout Mountain Family Dentistry with Dr Howard a custom fitted professionally made sports mouth guard can be made for you at no cost for patients of record at our practice. Talk to us about your sport, position and level that you play and a mouth guard can be made that fits your needs. The best time to have one made is when you are here for your cleaning appointment. Custom colors, name or nickname with logos can also be added.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using and Taking Care of Your Mouthguard

DO:

  • Rinse your mouthguard before and after each use.
  • Keep your mouthguard fresh and clean it with cool, soapy water. Be sure to rinse it off really well.
  • Store it in a container that is firm but still lets air in.
  • Check for wear and replace it when it no longer fits properly.
  • Wear your mouthguard during both practice and in games.
  • Schedule a visit to see your dentist for regular check-ups. Make sure you go before each sports season starts. Be sure to bring your mouthguard.

DON’T:

  • Don’t put your mouthguard in the sun or in hot water; it could melt or lose its special shape to fit your mouth.
  • Don’t wear removable appliances like retainers with your mouthguard.
  • Don’t chew on it or cut pieces off your mouthguard because it will change the way your mouthguard fits and it won’t protect your mouth as well as it should. See your dentist if you need to adjust the fit.
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