Preventive dental care is a never ending task and is important throughout all stages of your life. By developing and implementing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups at our local Reno office, you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your life. After all, the belief that people lose their teeth as they age is an unfortunate myth. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is entirely applicable for preventative dental care.
Here are a few simple ways that you can prevent the build-up of plaque and avoid cavities:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, making sure to gently massage your gumline as well as the teeth themselves.
- Use fluoride toothpaste to help maintain the health of your teeth and to remove plaque from the tooth and gum surfaces.
- Floss and/or use other interdental cleaners at least once per day to clean in between your teeth. By not flossing you are missing 40%of your tooth surfaces!
- Brush your tongue and use mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Talk to our dental hygienist about applying fluoride varnish to your teeth at your cleaning visits. It has many helpful benefits for both children and adults.
- Fluoride varnish is a gel-like material that is brushed onto the teeth and helps prevent cavities, strengthens the tooth’s surface and alleviates areas of sensitivity.
- You may consider having Dr. Swanson place dental sealants on your teeth to prevent cavities.
- A sealant is a protective coating applied to the grooves of your back teeth that will help block a cavity from forming.
Professional teeth cleanings are necessary for every person; from those who haven’t been to the dentist in many years to those who take impeccable care of their teeth and gums every day. At Swanson Dental Group, we know that teeth cleanings are vital to preventing gum disease, which is linked to other serious health problems, including heart disease. The gums and bone are the foundation for your teeth. Without regular professional cleanings, that foundation will weaken, leading to gum disease with resulting bone loss (otherwise known as periodontal disease). Subsequently, if not properly treated, gum disease will worsen over time and lead to tooth loss.
Not every person will need the same type of dental cleaning, which is why we take gum measurements at your first visit and periodically throughout your time with our office. These measurements and other findings help us to tailor your cleaning to meet your individual oral health needs. Even those who brush and floss religiously should regularly have their teeth professionally cleaned and their oral condition examined to ensure they are maintaining optimal oral health. After all, there are many hard-to-reach areas that you may have difficulty cleaning at home. Our expert hygienists at Swanson Dental Group will help to maintain those difficult areas and your overall oral health at each cleaning visit.
Periodontal therapy (sometimes called “deep cleaning” and “scaling and root planing”) is a more focused dental cleaning used to treat those people that already show signs of gum disease. In contrast to a preventative dental cleaning used when no gum disease exists, periodontal therapy is a treatment performed in response to gum disease already present.
Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. As the disease progresses, bone that surrounds the teeth is lost, which can ultimately result in loose teeth and/or the complete loss of teeth if not properly treated over time. The gums and bone are the foundation for your teeth. Once the bone level is reduced by the effects of gum disease, the damage is effectively irreversible. At that point, periodontal therapy is necessary to treat the bacteria causing the gum disease, and prevent the bone damage from worsening.
Usually, people affected by gum disease will require more frequent dental cleaning visits (called periodontal maintenances) in order to prevent the disease from becoming active again. Even though we at Swanson Dental Group are committed to delivering the highest quality care to our patients, it is vitally important for everyone to do their part at home with their daily oral care routine.
Commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a very safe option for nearly all patients when administered under the supervision of Dr. Swanson. Although we always strive for the most comfortable experience for our patients, we understand that dentophobia (fear of the dentist or dental work) is very real for some patients who may have had a less-than-ideal encounter in their past. We are confident that Dr. Swanson and his excellent team at Swanson Dental Group will help you feel relaxed and at ease with respect to any treatment that is recommended.
For those patients who have a mild to severe phobia, or who just find it difficult to relax in the dental setting, nitrous oxide can offer that extra bit of assistance to improve your comfort. When inhaled, patients will feel a calming sensation as nitrous oxide helps to lower anxiety levels and provides a mild anesthetic effect. Additionally, the effects of nitrous oxide are completely reversible within minutes after oxygen administration. Therefore, our patients are able to come and go from their appointments safely, without the need for a driver.
Ask us about the option of using nitrous oxide at your next visit.
Composite Resin Fillings
Also known as “tooth-colored fillings,” composite fillings are a wonderful alternative to traditional amalgam, or silver fillings. Composite fillings are nearly invisible as they blend with the natural color of your tooth. These can be used on both back teeth and front teeth, making them an excellent choice to enhance the aesthetic of your smile. Additionally, composite resin fillings can be a more conservative option than traditional amalgam fillings, usually requiring removal of less natural tooth structure.
Though not appropriate in every scenario, composite fillings are bonded to the teeth and can offer a nice cosmetic improvement to our patients.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jawbone and is used to replace one or multiple missing teeth. Typically made of titanium, a dental implant is the most natural looking and functioning permanent replacement option for missing teeth. Once an implant is placed and allowed to heal, a porcelain crown is affixed to give the appearance of a natural tooth. Together, an implant and crown is the most favorable treatment for the permanent replacement of a missing tooth.
In the past, options for replacing missing teeth included bridges, partial dentures and complete dentures. Though these options still have their place in dentistry, they are more aggressive and usually less well-tolerated by patients. Dental implants offer an alternative to these treatments, being that they are more conservative and do not require removal of natural tooth structure. Dental implants can be used singly or together as multiple units for a wide variety of dental treatments. For example, even patients with existing dentures can benefit from implants by achieving improved stability and retention of the prostheses.
Cosmetic Veneers & Crowns
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is custom-made to fit on the outer facing of a tooth to improve the appearance of the teeth. Veneers are commonly used to improve appearance issues resulting from misshapen and discolored teeth, as well as excessive spacing of the teeth.
A crown, sometimes called a “cap,” is used to strengthen a broken or otherwise damaged tooth by covering it on all sides. Crowns do not replace natural teeth, they simply cover them to protect from further damage. Crowns are designed to look, feel and function just like natural teeth. Depending on the tooth and its condition, Dr. Swanson might recommend crowns of different materials that are best suited for the tooth and its location in the mouth. Some materials that he may recommend include crowns made entirely of ceramic, full gold, or of a metal base with porcelain stacked on top.
Custom Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening, or “bleaching,” involves use of a gel that is applied to your enamel to remove intrinsic stains and discolorations resulting in whiter teeth. The gel, containing either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, penetrates tiny pores in your tooth’s surface to accomplish this. Contrary to popular belief, professional teeth whitening does not harm your enamel and is perfectly safe when administered properly. It is worth noting that teeth whitening gel only works on natural teeth, and as such will have no effect on crowns or other restorations.
At Swanson Dental Group we offer a variety of options for teeth whitening, including in-office treatments and take-home custom whitening trays. If interested, feel free to ask us about which option might be best for you.
Used to remove unsightly white spots on the teeth, enamel microabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that is performed at our Reno office. White spots, also known as fluorosis lesions, are intrinsic discolorations in the enamel surface that arise during tooth development. Though these discolorations are harmless, they can be large enough to be visually unappealing. White spot discolorations usually exist in the outermost layer of enamel. Enamel microabrasion is a process of polishing that outermost layer with a goal of reducing or eliminating the unaesthetic discolorations. In certain cases, this can be a nice alternative to bonding and can usually be done without the use of anesthetic.
Root Canal Therapy
Although many people find it hard to believe, getting a root canal can be a relatively painless experience. Root canals are most commonly performed when trying to save an infected, or abscessed tooth. The purpose of a root canal is to clear out infection that is caused by bacteria advancing to the innermost layer of the tooth. This layer is where the nerve and blood vessels reside and is known as the pulp. Once a tooth’s pulp is infected, the tooth will require a root canal to be saved, or it may have to be removed. If a root canal is decided upon as the appropriate treatment, it may be recommended that a crown is placed to strengthen and protect the tooth from breakage.
It is important to note that not all teeth requiring root canals will be painful. However, signs you may need a root canal can include:
- Severe toothache
- Pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- Fractured teeth
- Dark discoloration of the tooth
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
Root canal therapy is intended to save your tooth from extraction. Missing teeth can make you self-conscious, affect your ability to chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift, and have a negative impact on your overall health. By choosing to receive root canal therapy, you are choosing to preserve a healthy, natural smile.
A bridge is a permanent restoration used to replace the space resulting from one or more missing teeth. Unlike a partial denture, which can be removed at will, a bridge is fixed and not removable. A bridge can be thought of as multiple crowns splinted together to “bridge the gap” formed by loss of a tooth or teeth. This prosthesis is intended to look and function similar to that of a natural tooth and is generally well-tolerated by patients. Caring for a bridge requires a slight modification in your flossing technique, which we will demonstrate for you. As is the case with all restorations in dentistry, bridges that are properly cared for will last longer and be healthier overall for the supporting teeth and gums.
Dentures & Partial Dentures
Whether a patient has no remaining teeth or has teeth in poor health that need to be removed, dentures are used to replace all the teeth in the upper jaw or lower jaw, or both. On the upper jaw, a denture is held in place by suction. On the lower jaw, a denture rests on the gums. Some patients may benefit from the added retention that implants can offer when a denture is secured to them. This type of prosthesis is known as an implant-retained denture. If you have an existing denture and have experienced issues with it slipping around or falling out, you may find that there are tremendous benefits to implant-retained dentures.
Similar to a denture, a partial denture is used to replace one or more missing teeth in either the upper or lower jaw, or both. Traditionally, a partial denture is held in place by metal clasps that attach to the remaining teeth. These remaining teeth are used as anchors to support the prosthesis. Today, acrylic clasps can be used on the anchor teeth, which are more aesthetic than the metal clasps. Partial dentures can also be used in conjunction with implants, which can help to eliminate clasps altogether. This is known as an implant-retained partial denture.
Together, with the expertise of Dr. Swanson and our local Reno dental lab, we aim to give you back your confidence in a natural looking smile that you can be proud of.
Though traditionally placed on children when their adult teeth first appear, dental sealants are recommended for patients of all ages who want to protect their teeth from cavities. A sealant is a protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often begins. When patients choose to place sealants on their teeth, they are choosing to take a preventative approach to tooth decay, rather than a curative approach with fillings.