The information presented is intended to educate the general public on common dental topics. Many dental terms are commonly seen and heard in the print and broadcast media; as well as in our daily conversations. However, many people do not completely understand these dental terms unless they have had first hand experience with them at their dentist’s office.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for a professional dental exam and consultation (no matter how much you hate going to the dentist). Each case will vary depending on the needs and concerns of each individual. We hope that this information will provide you with some basic dental knowledge so that you and your dentist can devise a plan to keep your smile healthy and looking great.


Through advances in modern dental materials and techniques; the shape, color, and alignment of your teeth can be improved to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

A smile can be the most eye-catching feature of a face. You now have choices that can help you smile with confidence.

Even the most subtle change in your smile can make a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel about yourself. Talk to your dentist about the options most suitable for you, what your expectations are and the dental fees involved. Some options are:

Tooth whitening (bleaching) brightens teeth that are discolored or stained. Bleaching may be done completely in the dental office or the dentist may dispense a system for you to
use at home.

Bonding can improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, broken, cracked, stained, or have spaces between them. With bonding, tooth-colored materials are applied, or bonded, to the tooth surface.

Enamel shaping involves modifying teeth to improve their appearance by removing or contouring enamel. The process, which often is combined with bonding, usually is quick and comfortable and the results can be seen immediately.

Veneers are thin custom-made shells designed to cover the front side of teeth. Made of tooth-colored materials, veneers are used to treat spaces between teeth and teeth that are chipped or worn, permanently stained, poorly shaped or slightly crooked.

 
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Many people believe that once they have dentures, they no longer need regular dental care because they don’t have any teeth. Denture wearers require regular check ups and maintenance to ensure their health, comfort, and appearance. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help
remove plaque.

There are various types of complete dentures. A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient­s mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed which may take several months. An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurements and makes models of the patients jaws during a preliminary visit. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during
the healing period.

 

For people who have lost teeth, implants provide artificial teeth that look more natural and feel more secure. Implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth or support a bridge, full dentures or partial dentures.

Dental implants can offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.

Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.

Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.

 
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Maintain a healthy diet.

Make sure water is readily available.

Limit the number of between-meal snacks. When you must snack, choose nutritious foods that are low in sugar.

Brush thoroughly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

Floss or use another kind of interdental cleaner daily to remove plaque (a thin film of bacteria) from under the gums and between teeth.

Schedule regular dental visits for checkups and cleanings.

Oral Cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.

It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissue, check lining, tongue and the hard or soft palate.

Your dentist has the skills and tools to ensure that early signs of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. You and your dentist can fight and win the battle against oral cancer. Know the early signs and see your dentist regularly.

Other signs include:

  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal

  • A color change of the oral tissues

  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or
    small eroded area

  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere          in the mouth or on the lips

  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking            or moving the jaw or tongue.

  • A change in the way the teeth fit together

  • Oral Cancer most often occurs in those              who use tobacco in any form.

  • Alcohol use combined with smoking                  greatly increases risk.

  • Prolonged exposure to the sun increases            the risk of lip cancer.

  • Oral cancers can occur in people who do not     smoke and have no other known risk factors.

  • Oral Cancer is more likely to
     strike after age 40.

  • Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits            and vegetables may prevent the                      development of potentially
     cancerous lesions.

 

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. It is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because early periodontal disease is painless and shows few symptoms, patients are often unaware that there is a problem. For this reason, regular dental visits are essential for the early diagnosis and treatment of gum disease.

Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

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Prevention and early detection are key in avoiding costly and painful dental treatment. Prevention begins with the control of plaque and calculus, the main cause of decay and gum disease. Prevention continues with regular check-ups and cleaning at your dental office. If a problem is found, it can be taken care of when it is small. If left untreated, the problem will become a big problem

Inside each tooth is the pulp which provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth, it runs like a thread down through the root. When the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies. If you don’t remove it, your tooth gets infected and you could lose it. After the dentist removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Then your dentist places a crown over the tooth to help make it stronger.

Oral cancer screening is a routine part of a dental examination. Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it.

Your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue and in some patients may notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore. Although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart. If you have a sore with a likely cause, your dentist may treat it and ask you to return for re-examination.

Dentists often will notice a spot or sore that looks harmless and does not have a clear cause. To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous, your dentist may choose to perform a simple test, such as a brush test. A brush test collects cells from a suspicious lesion in the mouth. The cells are sent to a laboratory for analysis. If precancerous cells are found, the lesion can be surgically removed if necessary during a separate procedure. It'­s important to know that all atypical and positive results from a brush test must be confirmed by incisional biopsy and histology.

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Many dentists are concerned that their patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks that affect their teeth. These items generally have little if any nutritional value and over time they can take a toll on teeth.

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. When bacteria (plaque) come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced, which attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This can eventually result in tooth decay.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Almost all foods, including milk or vegetables, have some type of sugar. However, they shouldn’t be removed from our diets because many of them contain important nutrients. And they add pleasure to eating. To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Added sugars often are present in soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, candy, cookies and pastries.

If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Although poor nutrition does not cause periodontal disease directly, many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and could be more severe in people with nutrient-poor diets