The scope of general dentistry includes several different facets, some of these are:
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Oral and Maxillofacial (including pathology, radiology, and surgery)
- Orthodontics (braces)
- Pediatric dentistry
- Periodontics (gum disease treatment)
- Prosthodontics (implants, dentures, cosmetic)
A general dentist has generally completed at least eight years of higher education, and received a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree – These degrees are the same, historically different dental colleges used different designations. Dental specialists in the fields listed above often will have completed at least two additional years of advanced dental education. Your dentist has been trained to recognize, diagnose, treat and prevent different conditions related to your dental, oral and head-and-neck health.
Maintaining good oral health and visiting your dentist regularly will help to ensure that you maintain your best and healthiest smile and is a significant contributor to general health.
Our clinic offers a full line of children’s dental services, we strive to create as fun and pleasant an environment for the child as possible. Our providers have extensive experience working with and treating children. With a growing body supported by frequent eating needs, children’s teeth can be especially susceptible to cavities. Proper brushing at home, supervised by an adult, is a very good first step to a healthy smile. The first teeth to erupt into an infant’s mouth are usually around six months to one year old. Completion of baby teething is usually around two to three years old. To help with the discomfort of teething, rubbing the area with a clean finger or a wet cloth helps to sooth the area. Baby teeth are important for maintaining space for adult to come into, supporting eating, speaking and the child’s confidence. A common problem for young children are cavities that come from eating/nursing at night. Having a wet cloth to wipe a child’s teeth after eating, before sleep is a good minimum, brushing is ideal. For best development of baby and adult teeth a good diet is key. Breastfeeding is highly recommended when the child is in infancy. The incorporation of a good diet will contribute to strong teeth and bones, and a healthy body. Around the age of six years old, the first adult (permanent) teeth come in. Adult teeth continue to come into the child’s mouth into their teenage years. Children usually have enormous appetites; this coupled with less than ideal brushing and flossing habits can make them especially prone to cavities. It is generally recommended that the child and parent first visit the dentist around their second birthday. This visit is to check the eruption of the baby teeth, look for any early decay, and to promote a good relationship, without fear, with the dentist. Regular visits, home care and appropriate treatment are good ways to ensure a healthy, happy smile.
Fluoride is a chemical that is absorbed up into your teeth, to make them stronger and protect against cavities and decay. In the dentist office, a fluoride treatment takes only a few minutes. Immediately after fluoride treatment it is important not to eat, drink, or brush your teeth for around an hour or two (to avoid washing away the fluoride before it can be absorbed in). It is helpful if parents feed their children before a visit to prevent hunger pangs during this time! Your oral health and the doctor’s recommendations will influence your fluoride treatment schedule. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription toothpaste high in fluoride content.
Teeth are usually developed from several tooth buds growing together. Where those buds contact in some teeth, there are grooves and pits. These can be very narrow and deep, allowing cavity causing germs access, while not being very cleansable with a tooth brush. Dental sealants are a restorative material that is placed that covers the pits and grooves, preventing bacteria and debris from entering. Sealants usually last from three to five years, some can last for many years into adulthood. Sealants only work when they are fully in place. For this reason, if your sealant comes partially or completely off it is important to have it replaced.
At the Lower Sioux Dental Clinic we use tooth colored restorative/filling material for most small to moderate sized cavities. The tooth colored restoration replaces the part of the tooth which was damaged by decay, often with no or minimal indication that the tooth was ever effected.
Crowns are a restorative treatment choice used when the tooth is either overly compromised by cracks, wear, or damage – eliminating the possibility of a direct restoration or filling. They can be used when a direct restoration or filling is not possible. Crowns are commonly known as “caps”. They work on the tooth similar to a winter stocking on a head. Just like a stocking cap protects your head, so too does a dental crown protect the tooth, and fill in for the damaged tooth structure. The crown is cemented in place in place and acts as a perment esthetic and functional support for the tooth. Crowns may be metal, porcelain, or both depending upon a variety of factors and your preference. Some crowns, especially those used on baby teeth, are stock. Most adult crowns are custom designed and modified to accommodate your smile, how you bite, and your jaw movements.
Bridges can be used to replace missing teeth. The concept is to use the teeth on both sides of the space created by the missing tooth (or teeth). These supporting teeth are prepped as crowns. These prepped teeth are the support for the dental bridge which spans the missing area. The success of the bridge depends on the teeth supporting it. For this reason, it is important to maintain good brushing and flossing habits, along with periodic trips to the dentist.
Root Canals on the surface, a tooth may look and seem almost like a solid rock. However, beneath the heavy outer mineralization, there is a hollow area containing blood vessels and nerves. This is similar to other bones in the body which have a hard outer layer with more hollow, marrow filled center. If the tooth is cracked or has a large cavity, germs can enter this sensitive center of the tooth leading to a painful infection. These types of infections, if left untreated, can be very dangerous. In the lower teeth dental infection can lead to blocking the airway and suffocation. In the upper teeth this infection may spread to the blood vessels leading into the brain. Root canal treatment can involve one or multiple visits depending on conditions. By the end of treatment, the infected root canal should be thoroughly removed and filled with a rubber like material. The crown of the tooth should either have a new restoration or a fabricated crown for support. If properly taken care of, root canal treated teeth may last the length of your life.
Extractions, commonly known as ‘pulling teeth’. There are times where a tooth is no longer restorable by the dentist and extraction is necessary for health or betterment of the person. Circumstances which can lead to a necessary extraction could be a baby tooth blocking an adult tooth from growing into place or a badly decayed or infected tooth, among many others. Some extractions can be performed more easily than others. Some extractions require a surgical approach. Following extraction of a tooth, specific instructions will be given regarding proper care and recovery for the area. It is usually recommended that the extracted tooth be replaced to avoid future problems.
Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth that look natural and can help with the functions that the missing teeth used to provide. There are two general types of dentures; full and partial. Full dentures cover the spaces where the teeth used to be. Additionally, they cover other areas of the mouth to help with their retention and function. Partial dentures cover the areas of the mouth where the teeth are missing. It important to keep in mind that dentures need care, they must be brushed and kept moist. They should not be dropped and should be kept away from children and pets.
Our practice uses state of the art x-ray technology for our dental treatment. The advantages of the system that we use is reduced radiation exposure for you, improved clarity of the image, and greatly reduced time. We are happy to answer your questions, and address concerns related to x-rays.
Periodontitis / Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the beginning of gum disease. It is often characterized by redness of the gums, swelling, and bleeding with flossing or brushing. If gingivitis is addressed early on, it is treatable and even reversible. If gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to full gum disease – Periodontitis. The best way to prevent or address gingivitis, is through proper oral hygiene (please link here to oral hygiene page), including brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dental office.
Periodontitis is full gum disease, in most situations, this is caused by long standing untreated gingivitis. It can also be genetic, teeth grinding (or teeth hitting improperly). Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis and often results in the destruction of bone. Advanced periodontal disease can cause bone and tooth loss. Periodontal conditions can be addressed and treated by your dental team at the Lower Sioux Dental Clinic.
Common causes of gum problems:
- Regular tobacco use
- Infrequent dental visits
- Poor brushing and flossing habits
- Pre-existing conditions
Common signs of gum disease:
- Red, swollen, bleeding gums
- Long standing bad breath
- Loose teeth or missing teeth
- Abscessed teeth
- Receding gum line
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
Gum Disease Treatment
Treatments vary by individual case, severity, and the factors which caused the condition.
Gingivitis can usually be treated with a dental cleaning, improved brushing and flossing habits, and a healthier diet.
The most common and basic treatment for gum disease is scaling and root planing (also known of as a ‘deep cleaning’). This procedure helps with the removal of deep deposits of calculus and the germs that have invaded these areas of the gums. Periodontal surgery is sometimes beneficial in severe periodontal disease. Placement of antibiotic medication around some of the affected teeth can help with treatment and healing. Dental water picks can be a valuable tool for cleaning the hard to reach deep areas around periodontal involved teeth. It is very important that you follow up with your treatment and home-care instructions if you have periodontal disease, if not the condition may reemerge even after treatment. Not treating gum disease can often result in the loss of the affected teeth. With treatment and good at-home care, gum disease can often be stopped and even reversed. Through brushing, flossing, nutritious diet, and regular dental visits your best smile and oral health can be achieved.
TMJ – TMD
TMJ – TMD (Jaw Pain)
Temporomandibular joint pain (jaw joint pain) is a condition which affects many people. Common symptoms of this include: Pain in the jaw area – that can extend into the ear, neck, or side of the head, clicking or crunching sounds when the jaw is moved, a change in the alignment in the top to the bottom jaw, among others. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, let your dentist know. There are a number of different causes of this type of dental pain, together the cause can be sought and addressed. Grinding of teeth at night can be a significant contributor to TMJ problems, a nightguard appliance can be fabricated if this is a problem you are experiencing.
Some simple steps you can take to relieve TMJ pains are:
-Relax your face and jaw muscles
-Avoid clenching your jaws. In healthy mouths, the teeth are separated all of the time. Remember to keep your teeth separated with the saying: “Tongue Up, Teeth Apart”, when your tongue is up, it should be touching the roof of your mouth behind the front two teeth.
-Practice good posture
-Avoid substances that tense up your muscles, like caffeine or tobacco.
-Massaging the sore joints can be helpful to reduce pain
-Be thoughtful regarding the condition. TMJ pains can be some of the more difficult dental conditions to find the underlying cause. Think about when you first noticed it, and what you think may cause it. Think about ways you can address these factors. Be sure to share this with your doctor.