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General Treatments

Research has shown that almost everybody has a 95% chance of experiencing some tooth decay. When tooth decay does occur, it is highly important to remove the decay, clean the tooth and repair the tooth with some type of restoration. Additionally, lost or missing teeth need to be replaced to protect your overall oral health.

In this section, we will look at the various restorations we can use to protect and restore decayed or missing teeth.

Please click on a treatment option above for more information.

Composite Fillings

The clear alternative to traditional mercury fillings.

The Problem:

* Decay on a portion of any tooth
* Desire to replace old-fashioned mercury (silver) fillings
* Desire to maintain a white, beautiful smile

The Solution:

A composite filling is a tooth colored quartz-like material. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this tooth colored material is layered into the tooth. Each layer is hardened or cured with highly intense visible light, and the final surface is shaped and polished to match the tooth. The final restoration is virtually invisible.

Advantages:
Composite fillings are more than just attractive. They are environmentally non-toxic because they use no mercury. They are stronger because they bond directly to the surface of the tooth. They protect the tooth from fracturing because they don't require the severe "undercut" (removal of healthy tooth structure) of a mercury filling.


Disadvantages:

The initial investment in a composite filling is higher than that for a mercury filling. This is due to the fact that the composite material is more expensive and the restoration is more difficult and time consuming to place. However, this initial higher investment is offset in the long run by the health benefits and reduced likelihood of restoring potentially fractured teeth.

Alternatives:
Inlays/onlays are sometimes good alternatives to composite fillings, offering excellent long term durability. In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are the only alternative.
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Silver Fillings

An inexpensive way to restore a small amount of tooth decay.


The Problem:

* A small amount of decay on a portion of a back tooth

The Solution:
We do not use mercury/silver fillings as a restorative material.
However, these restorations were common in the past because they were an inexpensive way to restore a small amount of tooth decay. This section will give you some information on silver fillings. Please click on composite fillings if you would like to see the modern tooth-colored restorations we perform here.

Advantages:
Silver fillings have been used for more than 125 years. Their biggest advantage is that they are quickly placed, making them relatively inexpensive. They are also relatively durable.

Disadvantages:
Silver fillings do not bond (stick) to the tooth structure. This requires the preparation to be "undercut," creating a chamber that is smaller at the surface of the tooth and wider inside. This undercut keeps the filling from falling out of the tooth.

The problem is that the creation of this undercut requires the removal of more healthy tooth structure than is necessary. This weakens the tooth and predisposes it to fracture when biting into hard items. Since fillings will break down from normal wear, they will eventually need to be replaced, and this will require the removal of even more healthy tooth structure.

Though silver fillings contain some mercury, current studies indicate what appear to be no measurable health risks to patients. However, we do know that mercury is a highly toxic material that can cause neurological and kidney disease. Adults and children have even been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of environmental mercury. Even if there are no direct risks to patients, the extensive use of mercury in fillings may have a long term environmental impact.

Alternatives:
Composite (white) fillings are an excellent alternative, limiting the removal of healthy tissue and posing no known environmental risk. In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are a much better restoration.
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Dental Implants

An excellent way to replace missing teeth.

The Problem:

* A missing tooth or teeth
* Potential bite and jaw joint problems from teeth shifting to fill the space
* The "sunken face" look associated with missing teeth
* Desire to improve chewing ability
* Desire for a more permanent solution than dentures

The Solution:
A dental implant is an appliance used to replace the roots of teeth. The implant is surgically attached to the jaw bone and an artificial tooth is attached to the top of the implant, creating a natural looking, undetectable replacement for the missing tooth. In the event that more than one tooth is missing, several implants may provide a base for a series of artificial teeth known as a fixed bridge (see fixed bridges.) Implants can even be used to secure a full set of removable dentures for people who have no remaining natural teeth. This can greatly improve chewing ability and reduce the risk of choking.

It generally takes about six months for the surgical implant to heal before the final installation of the artificial tooth or teeth can be finished.

Advantages:
Dental implants with artificial teeth are the closest thing to regrowing your natural teeth. They are strong, stable, durable and virtually undetectable. By filling gaps left by missing teeth, implants can provide better chewing ability and head off jaw joint problems. They are far superior to removable dentures.

Disadvantages:
Dental implants are excellent, state-of-the-art restorations and have few disadvantages when compared to alternatives such as dentures. However, dental implants do require surgery and time to heal, and they are initially more expensive than dentures or fixed bridges. These disadvantages are offset by the ease of use, saved time and long term health benefits of implants.

Alternatives:
Dentures are a poor alternative to dental implants. However, in some cases, where finances are a primary concern, dentures are the only alternative.
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Root Canal Therapy

Protect and keep a sick or dying tooth.

The Problem:
* Infected or sick tooth due to decay or injury
* Chronic tooth pain from contact with hot and cold liquids
* Pain from pressure or biting down
* Danger of infection spreading

The Solution:
Inside each tooth is a pulp chamber that contains the nerves and blood supply for the tooth. When the pulp becomes infected due to decay or injury to the tooth, the pulp must be removed from the center of the tooth and the canals of each root. Once the infected pulp is removed, the remaining chamber is filled with a rubber-based material to seal it off.

All teeth that have had root canal therapy must be protected with a tooth-like artificial covering known as a crown (see crowns). This is because teeth that have had the pulp removed are more susceptible to fracture.

We do 98% of the root canals that are needed in our office. Root canal therapy has changed from methods of the past. Current root canals should be comfortable and almost always completed in one visit. We are on the select dentists utilizing a microscope for the procedure.

Advantages:
Root canal therapy is an excellent way to save a tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed.

Disadvantages:
If a tooth is sick, there are no disadvantages to root canal therapy. On rare occasions, however, root canal therapy may need to be redone to ensure that all of the infection has been removed.

Alternatives:
The only real alternative is to remove the sick tooth. However, this will require a dental implant or bridge to fill the empty space and prevent the shifting of surrounding teeth. These solutions will ultimately cost more than the root canal therapy, and they will never equal the quality of keeping your natural tooth.
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