Preventive Dentistry

One of the most effective ways to prevent development of cavities is to implement proper preventive techniques both at home and in the dental office. 

 

Home techniques include proper oral hygiene care including daily brushing and flossing and adequate exposure to fluoride, such as a mouthrinse.  We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day,  flossing once a day, and using a daily mouthrinse in order to consistently remove daily plaque accumulation and provide your teeth with proper fluoride exposure.  

Dr. Clark is a big proponent of implementing preventive techniques in the dental office.  These include maintaining routine exams and cleanings, frequent oral cancer screenings, appropriate updating of dental x-rays, fluoride treatment (fluoride varnish), and placing sealants.

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Read more about oral cancer screenings and what to look for here:

 

Routine Exams

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Routine Exams, also considered to be recall exams, are recommended every 6 months in order to help maintain good oral health. The purpose of these exams are to help recognize early development of new dental problems and re-evaluate the status of previous dental treatment. By maintaining a consistent recall exam schedule, new dental problems can be caught early and the necessary treatment ideally minimized. 

 

Routine Cleaning

Routine Cleanings, also called dental prophylaxis, are recommended every 6 months in addition to the routine exam. The purpose of these cleanings are to remove any calculus that may have accumulated since the last cleaning and help the dentist recognize areas of home oral hygiene care that can better be improved upon to maintain a happy and healthy smile. 

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Oral Cancer Screening

Most Common Locations

Oral Cancer is a form of cancer that occurs within the oral cavity (mouth).  Although there are multiple forms of oral cancer, the most predominant form is squamous cell carcinoma (>90% of all oral cancer). Oral cancer is most effectively treated and cured when it is caught at an early stage, which is why Dr. Clark so strongly believes in frequent oral cancer screenings.  In addition to these screenings, it is imperative that patients know what the risks factors are and what signs and symptoms they should be looking for. 

What to Look For?

In order to help detect early development of oral cancer you want to examine all areas of your mouth on a regular basis for any changes that may arise.  The most common locations and physical presentations for oral cancer can be seen below.

Risk Factors

What Does It Look Like?

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-Lateral border (side) of tongue

-Floor of mouth (below tongue)

-Soft palate/tonsillar regions. 

  • White Plaque

  • Red Plaque 

    • Similar to a burn, often velvety smooth appearance.​

    • Can have slightly raised or depressed border and can present with white speckles on surface.

  • Ulcer

    • Often with raised border and deep central crater.​

  • "Ball Shaped" Mass

    • Often having an irregular texture on the surface.​

The most prominent risk factors include tobacco products (both smoked and smokeless) and alcohol abuse (6 or more alcohol equivalents per day).  Statistics show that 75% of patients who have oral cancer are smokers. 

 

Children's Dentistry

For a child to maintain good oral health, it is imperative that they are receiving appropriate help with home oral hygiene care, implementing proper nutrition practices, avoiding development of harmful habits, and have established a stable dental home.  Dr. Clark is a big proponent of children establishing a dental home in the first twelve months after birth with the first appointment recommended at the time that their first tooth becomes visible. Establishing a dental home at such an early age allows the dentist to provide education to both the parents and child regarding proper oral hygiene care and techniques as well as information on nutrition practices that will help prevent development of cavities.  

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Deep Cleaning

(Scaling & Root Planing)

A deep cleaning, also known as scaling & root planing, is a type of cleaning that is used to help treat individuals with periodontitis (gum disease).  In every person, the gums are attached to the teeth at a certain level.  The space above this attachment is what we call a "pocket" and is located between your gums and your teeth.   In an individual with healthy gums, these pockets are between 1-3mm.  With periodontitis, the gums become red and inflammed, bone loss  occurs leading to a loss of gum tissue attachment to the teeth, and ultimately results in a deepening of these pockets.  Pockets deeper than 3mm cannot effectively be reached with home care or a standard dental cleaning (prophylaxis) and therefore require more in depth treatment.  A deep cleaning is necessary to go below the gums and remove any accumulation of calculus which is contributing to continued bone loss.  Proper deep cleanings will take at least two appointments as only two quadrants may be cleaned at a time.  For this procedure, numbing medication is used to alleviate discomfort of cleaning below the gum tissue. 

 
 

Dental Filling

A dental filling is a procedure that is used to treat dental cavities.   Two types of dental fillings are offered: composite (tooth colored resin) and amalgam (metallic).  They each have their own advantages and disadvantages and are both commonly used throughout dentistry today.  If you need a dental filling, ask Dr. Clark about the advantages and disadvantages of each and see what option works best for you!

Perfect Smile

Crown/Bridge

 

A dental crown is essentially a "cap" for a tooth.  Crowns can be used for protection of teeth that are susceptible to fracture or as a restoration for an implant that aids in replacing a missing tooth.  A crown is recommended for teeth that are missing a significant amount of tooth structure whether it is from a previous fracture or from an extensive dental cavity. Crowns can be made of three different types of materials: porcelain (ceramic), metal, and zirconia.

A bridge is utilized to replace missing teeth and constitutes a series of crowns that are attached together.  In this case, the tooth in front and behind the missing tooth will receive a crown that is connected to a "fake tooth" in the middle.  This "fake tooth" is made out of the same material as the adjacent crowns and is made to mimic the shape and appearance of the tooth that is missing.   Although a bridge is a good option to replace a missing tooth, it is not recommended for all cases.  Your specific case would need to be evaluated to see what your best treatment option would be.

Root Canal

A root canal is a treatment performed when the nerve (pulp) within a tooth has become either infected or necrotic resulting in pain and/or swelling.   During this treatment, the infected or necrotic tissue of the tooth will be removed and replaced with a filling material known as gutta percha.  The opening will then be sealed with a dental filling material such as composite.  In some but not all circumstances, the tooth may require a crown in addition to the root canal to help protect the tooth from excessive forces. 

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Dentures

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A denture is one of multiple treatment options that are used to restore missing teeth. There are three main types of dentures: complete, partial, and hybrid.  A complete denture is a treatment that is recommended when an entire arch(es) (all teeth) have been lost or there are not enough remaining teeth to support another restorative option for the arch.  A complete denture consists of plastic teeth that are set within an acrylic base.

A partial denture is a treatment that is recommended when one or more teeth are missing but there are enough stable teeth remaining to support the denture.  Partial dentures are made out of a metal framework that will essentially clasp around the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth.  In the locations of the missing teeth, plastic teeth will be embedded in acrylic.  A partial denture is not the only option for missing one or more teeth, ask Dr. Clark what options are good for you.

A hybrid denture is a treatment that is recommended when all of the teeth in an arch have been lost or there are not enough remaining teeth to support another restorative option.  A hybrid denture is a non-removable complete denture that is fixed in the mouth by multiple implants.  Although this is an excellent option for stability purposes, it is not the best treatment for every case.  Your specific case will need to be evaluated to see what option is best for you.

 

Invisalign

Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that helps to straighten and align teeth through utilization of a series of clear aligners.  These aligners are similar to retainers in appearance and are designed to be worn throughout the day. Your specific case will need to be evaluated to see if Invisalign is the right option for you. 

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Veneers

Veneers are treatment options for patients with sound anterior teeth that either need or are desiring enhanced esthetics.  Veneers consist of a thin layer of porcelain that is bonded to the front surface of a tooth that has had minimal preparation.  The concept is similar to that of a crown, however, rather than covering the entire tooth, a veneer is only applied to the front surface. 

 

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a treatment that is used to brighten the color of one's teeth by implementing different techniques that utilize either a form or by-product of hydrogen peroxide.  If teeth whitening is desired, it is recommended to do prior to receiving restorative treatment as it will not whiten crowns, veneers, or dental fillings.  Here at Southern Smiles Family Dentistry, we will make customized bleaching trays for you to take home along with your whitening solution. 

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Sports Dentistry

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Sports Dentistry is a branch of dentistry that is associated with both the prevention and treatment of sports/exercise related dental injuries and diseases. The most important aspect of preventing sports related trauma is through the use of proper protective equipment such as helmets, faceguards, and mouthguards with the most important aspect in protecting oral trauma being through use of a mouthguard.  Mouthguards are specifically designed to help prevent injuries to the teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue.  In addition, they also function to alleviate the force behind hits that could result in jaw fractures, trauma and dislocations of the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) and can even decrease the chances of concussion.  Research has shown that a custom fit mouthguard made by a dentist offers the greatest amount of protection against dental injuries due to the custom fabrication of each mouthguard to a cast mold of the patient's mouth. 

What sports need mouthguards?

Mouthguards are indicated in any sport where there is a risk of dental trauma or a potential for body-to-body contact and/or body-equipment contact. 

Natl. J. Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Jul-Dec; 2(2): 129-131

 

Nightguards

Nightguards are a treatment option used to help protect both the teeth and any existing dental restorations from unintentional grinding/excessive forces at night.  They are also designed to change the pressure point within the temporomandibular joints (jaw joints), which can result in a relaxation of associated muscles, decrease in jaw pain, and an increase in the range of motion.