Clinical FAQ

What is periodontal disease?

When bacteria invade the bone, the bone around your teeth becomes infected, called periodontal disease. Perio means around, and dental means tooth. Periodontal disease literally means a disease around the tooth. When the bacterial infection spreads to the bone holding your teeth in, the bone will start to shrink away because the bacteria are destroying the bone. You can have perfectly good teeth, that is to say, teeth without any decay what so ever and still lose all of your teeth because of periodontal disease.

What is the treatment for gum disease (periodontal disease)?

Careful cleaning of the root surface to remove plaque and calculus (tarter) from periodontal pockets is called scaling and root planning. A full mouth scaling and root planing is typically divided into two appointments, and half of the mouth is cleaned at a time. Once the initial scaling and root planning is performed, it is recommended that follow-up appointments, called periodontal maintenance, are scheduled every three to four months depending on the level of your gum infection. Scheduling and keeping periodontal maintenance appointments are critical to managing and successfully treating gum disease.

Do I need fillings?

A filling replaces missing tooth structure that was destroyed by bacteria (decay). A filling does not in any way protect your tooth from more decay; rather, it replaces the structure of the tooth. Modifying your diet to include less sugary and/ or acidic food and beverages as well as practicing good oral hygiene will help prevent future decay.

What are fillings made of?

The only material we use at Inland Family Dentistry is composite material that produces a tooth-colored filling. Traditionally, amalgam was the material of choice. Amalgam is a combination of elemental mercury, silver, tin, copper, and possibly other metallic elements. While amalgam is proven to be durable, it is controversial because of health issues attributed to mercury.

What is a crown or a cap?

A crown, also known as a cap, is used to mechanically reinforce a tooth that has lost a significant amount of tooth structure either to decay or to the tooth breaking off or a combination of the decay and breakage. A crown does not in any way protect your tooth from more decay; only good oral hygiene habits, a diet minimizing sugary and acid foods and beverages, and regular dental checkups can prevent decay.

How does an implant work?

An implant is a titanium screw-like device that is first surgically placed into the bone, and over roughly four to six months the bone grows and attaches to the implant. Once the healing process in complete, the implant is ready to be restored.

You can restore a single implant with a single crown; you can restore two implants with a bridge to replace two or three teeth; or you can restore implants to help hold your denture in place. Implants act like the two abutments on a bridge and support all the weight of that bridge.

The important thing to remember about implants is that they stimulate the bone and therefore greatly reduce the bone loss around the implant. Now, not only are you suddenly able to eat corn-on-the-cob again, but you stop the bone loss. We strongly encourage patients with dentures, even if they are fitting well right now, to consider implants. While you are younger and still working, have insurance, or have time to save for implants, now is the time to plan for your oral health future. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything at once; the treatment can be staged over time.

What is a partial denture?

If you are missing several teeth in an arch and the teeth remaining are structurally sound and you are free of periodontal disease, then a partial denture is one option to replace several missing teeth. A titanium metal framework is cast to fit your teeth snuggly and then the appropriate acrylic teeth are attached to the metal framework substructure. The appliance replaces all the missing teeth in the arch. A partial denture is removable and needs to be well cared for as do all of your remaining natural teeth.

What can I expect when I get my denture?

For a first time denture wearer, it’s a bit like learning to walk all over again. At first, you will take baby steps, that is to say, you will take small bites of food and have to think about chewing. But, as time goes on and the more experienced you get, the chewing will require less conscious effort and will feel more natural to you. I instruct all my new denture wearers to practice speaking. Singing along with your favorite music or reading the newspaper aloud is an excellent way to train the tongue and lips how to talk with a new denture.

It is inevitable that you will experience some sore spots when you first start to wear your new denture. As soon as you notice sore spots, call us. We will adjust the sore spot(s) out until you no longer have any areas that bother you. New dentures feel awkward at first, but as you practice talking and speaking with them, they will feel more and more natural to you. Our team is here to help and guide you through the entire process.

Why do I need dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays help clinicians evaluate your oral health beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. Digital x-rays decrease the amount of radiation exposure compared to traditional film, not to mention eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals used to develop the film. There are many types of x-rays that clinicians use to monitor your dental health.

A full mouth series of x-rays (FMX) are taken every 3-5 years. If you are managing periodontal disease, your dentist may want to check your bone level around your teeth every three years. This will enable your dentist to respond more quickly to any changes in your periodontal condition. If you have healthy gum tissue, then a full mouth series is taken every five years. The FMX enables the dentist to evaluate not only the bone level but also check for early signs of problems with the health of the nerve in every tooth. In addition, the FMX serves as a hard tissue cancer screening, evaluating the maxillary and mandible, the bone of your upper and lower jaw.

Other Questions? Just Ask…