Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are the most important part of maintaining your oral health. While seen by many offices as “just a check-up”, Accent Dentistry recognizes that these exams are our first opportunity to discover dental issues early and address them avoiding more complicated and expensive procedures.
During your check up and exam, we will:
- Check for any problems you may not see or feel
- Look for cavities or other signs of tooth decay
- Evaluate your teeth and gums for gingivitis, irritation and signs of periodontal disease
- Assess your hygiene level and possibly perform a teeth cleaning
Your initial appointment will take approximately 1 hour. Each subsequent exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning; during which we will clean, polish, floss and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth’s surface. We have a variety of techniques and equipment to clean your teeth efficiently and thoroughly and will more than happy to discuss that with you.
Visiting our office every three to six months gives you the chance to ask Dr. Bankhead any questions you may have about your oral health. Depending on your dental and periodontal health, we will advise you of how often you will need to be seen for hygiene visits. Please do not hesitate to contact our practice today to schedule your next dental exam and teeth cleaning.
Fillings are one of the most common dental procedures performed. Most people in their lifetime will need some sort of filling restorative procedure. They can be performed on patients of any age and are often recommended as soon as the need is indicated. Many offices will recommend “watching” a tooth before recommending a filling. In only the rarest of circumstances will a cavity remineralize. More often, the cavity will spread requiring a larger filling which is why we recommend proactive treatment when decay is discovered.
There are two different kinds of fillings: amalgam (metal) and composite (resin). Composite fillings are white in color and the material used on each patient is selected to match the color of the adjacent tooth structure. Amalgam is silver in color.
Composite fillings are almost always placed on the front 6-8 teeth in both arches due to their cosmetic appeal. Amalgam is more commonly placed on back teeth. However, composite fillings are not only stronger, but have a longer lifespan requiring fewer replacements over time. While insurance companies often pay for fillings to be restored in amalgam, patients can elect to have them done in composite. Please feel free to discuss the choices and fees available to you with our staff.
The second most common dental complaint is missing teeth. A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face and reduce stress on your remaining teeth. When teeth are lost, the remaining teeth begin enduring additional force to compensate for the missing ones. A bridge replaces missing teeth with crowns, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded or cemented onto adjacent teeth for support.
The long term success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. It is essential to remember that there are real and vital teeth beneath the units that anchor the bridge. Therefore, it’s very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong. This is why even after bridges or crowns of any type are placed, home care and regular dental cleaning and exams are even more important.
Your crown is created in one of our custom U.S. labs from an in-office impression. This allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw. Your crown is then fabricated just for you so your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed. After a crown or bridge is placed, it is not unusual for your bite to feel “off” and to need manual adjustment in our office. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or issues with a crown placed by our office or elsewhere.
Dentures are natural-looking replacement teeth that are removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are inserted when all the natural teeth have been removed. Partial dentures are attached to a frame connected to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where some permanent teeth have been removed. Thanks to advances in dental technology, this frame can now be either metal or tissue colored acrylic depending on your bite and situation. This offers even more cosmetic options for people who may need a partial denture and simply do not want metal framework showing when they smile.
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. As well, annual check ups are essential to maintain fit, function and cleanliness. The exam also allows us to evaluate your tissue and bone to make sure that everything is healthy beneath your denture.
There are times when it is becomes necessary to remove a tooth. Extractions can be performed on patients of any age. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. It may also need to be extracted to allow for orthodontics/braces to be initiated. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it simply exceeds the limits of restoration and puts the surrounding teeth at risk, so Dr. Bankhead may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge, implant or removable denture. Infection or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, Dr. Bankhead will determine the type of extraction needed and the length of the visit required. Our staff will then work to coordinate with your schedule to make the appointment as convenient as possible. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with us any concerns or preferences for sedation or anesthesia.
Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, we recommend selecting a replacement method as soon as possible. Some of these methods can be initiated the same day as the extraction limiting the amount of time you are without teeth.
Implant Placement and Restoration
As mentioned above, if you are missing teeth, it is crucial to replace them. Without all your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause great discomfort. As well, missing teeth can cause stress on remaining teeth resulting in the possible loss of additional teeth. 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 due to their strength and stability. They also maintain the bone, normally lost once a natural tooth is extracted.
An implant is comprised of two main parts: One is the titanium implant body that takes the place of the missing root, and the other is the post (abutment) and 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 also be used to support 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.
At Accent Dentistry, we’re always looking for new and improved tools to help you achieve a healthy smile and educate you on your dental needs, if any. While X-rays provide valuable information, they don’t give a complete view of everything going on inside your mouth.
With an intraoral camera, we can see every aspect of your mouth with photographic detail, uncovering cracked teeth, plaque deposits, cavities next to fillings, and excessive wear. When we can discover oral problems early on, your treatment is much less invasive and much more cost effective.
Our intraoral camera is small: about the size of the mirror we use during your regular hygiene appointments. You probably wouldn’t even notice we’re using it, except that with the intraoral camera, you have the opportunity to see everything we see on a monitor. This is a great tool to help you become more informed about your dental health, because it gives you a clear understanding of your teeth’s condition, and it allows you to make a more informed decision regarding your treatment options.
Fluoride and Desensitizing Treatments
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and is beneficial for patients of all ages. It can also prevents plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in Dr. Bankhead’s office takes just a few minutes. Depending on your oral health or the doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every 3, 6, or 12 months. Many insurance companies cover fluoride for patients under a certain age but many of our patients continue to have fluoride treatments throughout their life as they strengthen their teeth and minimize future dental needs.
We also offer desensitizing treatments for patients of all ages. This treatment, applied in office in a matter of minutes, can provide relief from temperature sensitivity and an inability to tolerate certain foods and beverages. It can also minimize sensitive endured when brushing and rinsing.
Root Canals (Endodontic Treatment)
Teeth that used to require immediate extraction can now often be saved. If indicated, a root canal can be used to save a badly decayed, infected or broken tooth. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside. 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. Untreated abscesses can result in systemic infection and even hospitalization.
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, Dr. Bankhead will remove the affected tissue by accessing it through the center of the tooth. 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, Dr. Bankhead will likely suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect it 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.
While brushing is essential, sometimes it is not enough; especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get 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. It is important to apply them as soon as the permanent molars have erupted to prevent bacteria and decay from taking hold. We will recommend them as soon as we see they are a viable option. If you notice your child’s teeth have erupted and want them evaluated for sealants, please contact our office. Many adults are now requesting sealants as well. They are less expensive than the fillings that may become necessary if the teeth develop decay.
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 us know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.
If you are unhappy or self conscious due to your smile because of gaps, chips, stains, or misshapen teeth, we can help. One of the most common cosmetic options are veneers. 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 a perfect option for patients who want to make minor adjustments to the look and feel of their smile. Veneers are also a great option for those who suffer from antibiotic based inherent staining that doesn’t respond to traditional whitening methods.
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made from tooth-colored materials, such as porcelain or composite. They are designed to cover the front side of your teeth. To prepare for veneers, a minor amount of tooth structure may need to be removed. While there are some “drill free” veneer technologies, we have found that a small amount of tooth reduction create a more aesthetic result. Dr. Bankhead will evaluate each patient on a case by case basis. We will then create a unique model of your teeth which is sent to the dental technician to create your veneers.
When placed, veneers look like your natural teeth only better. They are brushed, flossed and rinsed like your natural teeth. They are strong and resilient and can last a lifetime restoring confidence and a beautiful natural appearance.
Wisdom teeth are the last molars; usually the last one in each corner of the 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. In certain cases, the wisdom teeth will grow in without impaction, become completely functional and not need removal. Dr. Bankhead will evaluate each patient as necessary and determine which, if any teeth are indicated for extraction.
Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the 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. The longer the teeth remain, the more likely that removal will become more complicated thereby increasing recovery time.
Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Dr. Bankhead will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.