There have been numerous technological break-throughs in the art and science of Dental Medicine over the past 5 to 10 years. There are better and more gentle techniques for treating disease as well as better materials for longer-lasting restorations (fillings and crowns).
There are also new aids to diagnosis which allow the patients to see their teeth and gums up close thus allowing them greater control and confidence over the care they receive.
A few of these advances are outlined below.
Intraoral Cameras – A small camera about 1/4 inch in diameter placed on the end of a handle can be used to get close up pictures of individual teeth. These pictures can be viewed on a monitor at a magnification of 35 times the normal size. This camera helps with the diagnosis of problems at even earlier stages thus, repair can be accomplished sooner and more easily. This also has the added benefit of allowing patients to see exactly what is going on with their own teeth.
Caries detector – This is a dye which shows up decay (caries) which could otherwise have been missed. Complete removal of decay is vital in order to have a longer lasting restoration. This is not the same as the red plaque stain that is used to show spots where a person has missed in brushing his teeth.
Resin fillings – These tooth colored fillings have come a long way. Not only are they more natural and aesthetic looking, but they have other advantages as well. The preparation of the tooth to receive the filling can be done in a more conservative fashion. In this way, more of the healthy tooth structure is preserved. These fillings, when used with the total etch – total seal technique described in dental literature by Drs. Bertolotti and Kanca, can protect the tooth from the leakage of bacteria which can occur where the tooth and filling meet. In conjunction with the use of the caries detector, these restorations have the potential for longer life.
Sealants – This is a thin coating that is placed on the chewing surface of the back teeth. Sealants have been successfully used for about 30 years and have been shown to decrease the incidence of decay by approximately 80%.
Orthopedics – According to Dr. Duane Keller, Chairman of the Education Committee of the International Association for Orthodontics, traditional orthodontic treatment often leads to dysfunction in the TM Joints (jaw joints). According to some research done by Dr. John Truitt and others, the problem lies in the fact that the jaws are not of the correct shape and size to begin with and extraction of teeth in these cases can lead to other problems. Research done with the use of Orthopedic Dental Appliances has demonstrated that TMJ Dysfunction can be prevented and even corrected with this technique. Orthopedic treatment can be accomplished at any age but is faster and easier in a young child. I have successfully treated people of ages 4 through middle age with this technique.
Fluoride – Many communities in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties do not have fluoride in their drinking water. Current research shows that fluoride can protect the tooth from bacterial acids as well as control the numbers of bacteria in the person’s mouth. If you do not have fluoride in your water you can get bottled water with fluoride or have your Dentist write you a prescription for fluoride supplements. Prescription fluoride gels are also beneficial in many cases.
Regrowth of disease damaged bone – It was once believed that bone loss due to gum (periodontal) disease was permanent. New research has shown that with a technique known as Scaling and Root Planing (removal of debris under the gumline followed by smoothing of the surface of the root) in conjunction with follow up treatments every 3 months can make it possible for some of the lost bone to grow back in 6 to 12 months. Obviously, good home care is required as well. You may be a candidate for this treatment. I have noticed remarkable improvements when treatment is initiated in the early stages of the disease.
Complete Diagnosis – In order to get and keep your teeth and gums healthy it is necessary to get a complete, thorough, exam with x-rays, if needed, to find cavities or gum disease in its early stages. An evaluation of your joint function and your bite as well as a screening for oral cancer are vital for your overall health.
Our office provides these services and more to help you keep your teeth healthy and pain free for a lifetime.