A periodic oral exam is performed every 6 months with your dental cleaning. During this check up, the dentist will perform a complete intra and extra oral exam. We will check all of your existing dental work to make sure that it is still performing as it should, while also looking for any new decay or additional issues. We also perform an oral cancer screening in which we thoroughly examine your gum tissue, tongue, and entire mouth as well as your TMJ, lymph nodes of the neck, and your thyroid gland.
It is recommended that you get your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist or dentist once every 6 months. For patients who have a history of periodontal disease, or other diseases that affect the gum and bone tissue, more frequent cleanings may be recommended. While you may be great at brushing and flossing, there is bacteria that builds up below the gumline that cannot be adequately removed by these methods alone. The hygienist or dentist will gently clean the teeth both above and below the gumline to remove calculus (hardened plaque) and the bacterial biofilm that can cause inflammation in the gum tissue and, eventually, bone loss if left untreated.
Dental X-rays are used to help diagnose decay in between teeth, to check bone levels, to look for infection, to evaluate a tooth prior to extraction, or to look for other issues inside the bone. Dental X-ray machines are designed to limit the amount of radiation that scatters to areas other than the target area. While the amount of radiation emitted from dental X-rays is minimal, we believe in a conservative approach, and take the minimal number of X-rays possible to adequately diagnose and treat dental conditions.
Sealants are a type of flowable tooth colored filling material that are often placed in the molars of children and young adults. Some teeth have very deep grooves that tend to trap food debri and are, therefore, more susceptible to decay. Sealants are placed to fill in these deep grooves, making them less likely to trap debri, and easier to clean. Often times no drilling is necessary to place a sealant. On occasion, the dentist may want to conservatively open up the grooves to verify that no decay is present. In these instances, anesthetic is typically not necessary, because only the outermost portion of tooth structure is minimally removed. Sealants are a great conservative treatment that can help prevent future decay.
There are many different filling materials that can be used to replace lost tooth structure from trauma, wear, and decay. We most commonly place either tooth colored material (resin or glass ionomer) or amalgam (silver) fillings. While amalgam has recently gotten a bad rap, the American Dental Association continues to stand behind its use as a dental filling material. You can read their most recent statement on its use here. While tooth colored filling material has an aesthetic advantage, there are limits to its use. When an area cannot be well isolated and dry, then amalgam or glass ionomer becomes the material of choice. Dr. Sikora and Dr. Babb do their best to meet your aesthetic desires while also placing the material best suited for each specific circumstance.
A dental crown is a lab fabricated "cap" that is cemented over existing tooth structure. A crown may be recommended after a tooth has been treated with a root canal, if the tooth has a large filling, or if the tooth is cracked. A crown helps to bind the tooth together so as to prevent the tooth from chipping or cracking in the future. A bridge is two crowns with a fake tooth (or pontic) in between. A bridge is one of the recommended treatment options to replace a missing tooth. In order to fabricate a crown/bridge the dentist must first remove a small amount of tooth structure on all surfaces to make room for the crown. The dentist will then take an impression of the prepared tooth/teeth to send to the lab for crown/bridge fabrication. The dentist will then fabricate a temporary crown/bridge to cover the tooth until the final crown/bridge is delivered from the lab. Crowns/bridges can be made from various materials but most commonly they are made of gold, porcelain fused to gold, or ceramic. Dr. Sikora and Dr. Babb will discuss with you the materials that are best suited for your specific needs.
Root Canal Therapy
A root canal is performed on a tooth that has irreversible pulpal inflammation due to decay, infection, or trauma. Root canal treatment typically takes two visits to complete. Local anesthetic is first administered to the area to make you comfortable. The nerve (pulp) of the tooth is accessed through a small opening in the biting surface of the tooth. It is then removed and a special antimicrobial and sedative medication is placed in the canal. At your second visit, the nerve canal is thoroughly cleaned and replaced with a specialized filling material called gutta percha. The access is closed with filling material. Depending on the location and prior loss of tooth structure, a crown may be recommended after root canal therapy.
Dr. Sikora and Dr. Babb perform most dental extractions in the office. We do not extract impacted wisdom teeth, but most other extractions can be performed in our office without referral to an oral surgeon. We administer local anesthetic so that you are comfortable throughout the procedure.
A denture is a removable prosthesis that replaces an entire arch of missing teeth. You may have both an upper and lower denture or one or the other. A partial is a removable prosthesis that replaces one or more missing teeth and uses the remaining teeth to stabilize the appliance. A denture is made entirely of acrylic while a partial is typically composed of a metal framework and acrylic. Dr. Sikora and Dr. Babb will work with you to determine which prosthesis best suits your needs. Both dentures and partial dentures require a series of appointments to fabricate the most functional appliance.
Patients who clench or grind their teeth at night can cause significant damage to their teeth. The biting surfaces of the teeth can wear and flatten, chip, or crack. Night guard appliances help protect the teeth from these parafunctional habits. The appliance is made of a hard plastic/acrylic material that fits over the biting surface of the top teeth. An impression is taken in office and sent to the lab for night guard fabrication. Upon delivery in office, any adjustments are made by the dentist to insure that the appliance is comfortable and functional.
We currently offer two different whitening systems:
In office bleaching using the Phillips ZOOM! QuickPro system: Recommended to be completed following your dental cleaning. It takes about 15 minutes to apply and you are able to leave the office once the application is complete. After 30 minutes you simply brush (or wipe) off the whitening agent and sealer from your teeth and you are done! No messy strips, or need to wear trays for a 2 week time period. Good for patients who have sensitivity after whitening, as well as those looking for a quick and painless way to brighten their smiles.
Custom whitening tray fabrication with a take home bleaching agent: Recommended for patients who are in need of greater whitening potential, or those who want the flexibility to whiten and refresh on their own time. The trays are made of a thin plastic made to fit specifically to your mouth and are meant to be worn for 2 hours a day for 2 weeks at a time. Unlike the disposable trays offered OTC, these trays can be repeatedly used for future whitening touch ups.