Dental Exams & Cleanings
A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, dentist, and dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions.
Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. It is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth. Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor instead of x-ray film that captures and stores digital images on a computer.
This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Scaling and Root Planing
Our Hygienists specialize in periodontal care of our patients’ teeth, including scaling and root planing. The objective of scaling and root planing is to remove dental plaque and tartar, which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone.
These non-surgical procedures, which completely cleanse gum tissue and the supporting bone, work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
Scaling and root planing can be used both as a preventative measure and as a stand-alone treatment. These procedures are performed as a preventative measure for those suffering from periodontitis. Benefits of treatment include:
- Disease prevention – The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria and halts periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from traveling to other parts of the body.
- Tooth protection – When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, there is a greater risk of periodontal disease. As pockets deepen, they tend to house more colonies of dangerous bacteria. Eventually, a chronic inflammatory response by the body begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue which may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world.
- Aesthetic effects – Scaling and root planing help remove tartar and plaque from the teeth and below the gumline. As an added bonus, if superficial stains are present on the teeth, they will be removed in the process of the scaling and root planning procedure.
- Better breath – One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath). Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent bad odor in the oral cavity which is alleviated with cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing.
Grinding of teeth and the clenching of the jaw are the two main characteristics of bruxism, which can occur either during the day or at night. Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders and causes most of its damage during sleeping hours. The clenching and grinding which accompanies bruxism is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex, which is turned off in non-sufferers when sleeping.
For sufferers, deep sleep or even naps cause the reflex nerve control center in the brain to turn off, and the reflex pathways to become active. There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available. Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:
Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep. Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage, damage to the temporomandibular joint and help to stabilize the occlusion.
NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth. The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. The term sleep apnea is derived from the Greek etymology meaning “without breath”. Breathing pauses can last anywhere from several seconds to minutes, and happen as often as 30 times or more per hour. Ongoing disrupted breathing causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream, as not enough carbon dioxide is exiting and not enough oxygen is entering the body.
There are two main types of this disorder; central sleep apnea which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles, and obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when air cannot flow through the nose or mouth even though the body is still trying to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and easily treatable.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMJ are debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general well-being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. Dr. Austria is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.