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Patient Education

PREVENTION

The concept of prevention of disease is not new to dentistry. It has evolved over time through thoughtful consideration of science-based research being conducted with increasingly sophisticated ideas and technologies. We have moved from treating the consequences of dental disease to identifying its complex make-up and developing effective strategies to combat destructive processes before they start. Partnered with our better understanding of nutrition and exercise along with a “whole-body” philosophy of health produces the lowest risk of disease and the greatest potential for a long healthy life. The idea is to set up the system where the balance is in favor of the “pros” over the “cons” and it starts with prevention.

What is dental disease and how do you prevent it?

Dental disease is essentially periodontal or gum disease, and caries or tooth decay. Both occur when plaque, a combination of bacterial nutrients, bacteria and acids, attaches to tooth structure. In the case of decay, acids demineralize the hard tooth surface area creating a soft “cavity.” With gum disease plaque causes an early inflammation or gingivitis that can progress to a more destructive process called periodontal disease characterized by bone loss surrounding the roots of teeth. Plaque is constantly developing in our mouths and is why we use anti-bacterial and fluoride rinses, and why we brush and floss after meals.  If we consistently remove it disease risk goes down.

Heredity and lifestyle also play a role

Currently trends are developing involving caries management by risk assessment (CAMBRA). This process incorporates evaluating each individual’s potential to develop disease with a series of tests and then treating accordingly. Prevention of dental disease has as its primary focus the preservation of the natural dentition. Since digestion begins in the oral cavity, our teeth and supporting structures are critical to our ability to assimilate the proper nutrients in the proper form to maintain optimal overall health. In other words, chewing your food adequately with sufficient saliva mixed in allows us to extract the most vitamins, minerals, amino acids, water and other essential nutrients throughout our digestive tract.  Eating a balanced diet of various foods from the major food groups and limiting sugary foods and drinks helps keep us on the right track for a healthy smile and body.

Strong teeth equal resistance to decay

Fluoride helps make teeth strong. Systemic fluoride, or fluoride that is swallowed in the form of a liquid, tablet or in water, is directly incorporated into developing teeth. This process enables the outer layer of a tooth, called enamel, to form as hard as possible for each individual. Topical fluoride, or fluoride that is applied externally to a tooth as in toothpaste or rinses, serves the purpose of remineralizing (strengthening the outer layer of enamel) teeth.

The combination of these two approaches works best to create teeth that are very resistant to decay. Brushing your teeth thoroughly for three minutes manually or two minutes with a power brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is our recommendation. Our hygienists and/or Dr. Wade will demonstrate and review the technique with you. In addition, cleaning between your teeth daily with interdental cleaners, namely flossing, removes food particles and plaque from under the gum line and is very effective.

Regular dental visits

Regular dental visits make it possible for Dr. Wade to detect and treat problems in the early stages. During your comprehensive oral examination, he will check for conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. Radiographs (x-rays) will be taken and can provide important information about your oral health that cannot be seen otherwise. They will help Dr. Wade examine the roots of the teeth, teeth that have not yet erupted, contact areas between teeth, and evidence of cysts, tumors, developmental abnormalities or other diseases of the jaw bone. In some cases, dental radiographs can reveal a condition at an early stage before you experience any sign or symptoms that something is wrong.

A professional cleaning helps remove stains, plaque and tarter (hardened plaque) from your teeth, and helps prevent periodontal (gum) disease and decay and keeps your smile looking great. These check-ups are scheduled on a need basis, not a mandatory six-month time frame. Our goal is to help you preserve and protect your teeth before they show signs of damage.

 

PROCEDURES

Whitening

Increasingly, teeth whitening has become one of the most requested and fashionable dental procedures. With the advent of revolutionary at-home bleaching kits, you now have the opportunity to achieve superior results with a minimal investment of time. During your first in-office session, Dr. Wade will take an impression of your upper and lower teeth in order to create trays that will perfectly fit your mouth. On your next visit, he will provide you with a specially blended bleaching solution to be placed in the tray, which you will then take home and wear for a set amount of time. How long you wear the tray depends on the potency of the bleaching agent and the severity of your discoloration. The new bleaching gels need only be worn for 30 minutes per day. Because of its quick, dramatic results, at-home whitening has become one of the most popular procedures at our practice in Bethlehem. To learn more about teeth whitening and to schedule an appointment contact us today.

Sealants

A sealant is a plastic material (resin) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth — the premolars and molars. The resin bonds to the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of these teeth. A sealant is a barrier that protects tooth enamel from plaque and acids and decreases the risk of decay. These pits and fissures are difficult to clean because tooth brush bristles cannot reach into them. Consequently, these areas harbor plaque and food debris increasing the risk of decay. Children and teenagers are primary candidates for sealants because the likelihood of developing decay begins as soon as the back teeth appear. Adults can benefit as well because prevention is always better than treatment. During your examination Dr. Wade will check the condition of your teeth and recommend this procedure if needed.

Bonding 

Bonding is a general term that describes a variety of techniques. Each of these methods involves attaching or bonding a material such as composite (plastic), porcelain, sealants or even orthodontic appliances (braces). In many cases bonding can be used to treat teeth that are chipped or fractured, decayed, too widely spaced or rotated, malformed, or badly stained. This treatment involves the placement of a strong tooth-colored resin material directly onto the tooth. It is pliable in this state and can be shaped according to the need and then is hardened (set) in place by a brief exposure to a special curing light. Finally, the surface is contoured and polished. Although generally not as durable as dental crowns or veneers, the bonding material should maintain it’s integrity for years with proper care, and the process can be repeated when necessary. To learn more about dental bonding call us today at our Bethlehem office.

Crowns

Dental crowns or “caps” are made from several types of materials including metal alloys, ceramics, porcelain, composite resin or a combination of these materials. They serve both a cosmetic and practical function and cover the entire surface area of a tooth. The materials chosen are often colored to match your natural teeth. Crowns are ideal for repairing and reinforcing badly damaged teeth. They are particularly recommended for patients with teeth that are cracked or at high risk of cracking or fracturing in the future, badly decayed teeth, or to restore a tooth when there isn’t enough tooth structure remaining to provide support for a large filling. By strengthening weak teeth, crowns can substantially reduce or eliminate pain, sensitivity, and difficulty with chewing or speaking. These are also the restorations of choice to attach a bridge to replace missing teeth, cover a badly shaped or discolored tooth, and cover a dental implant. To learn more about dental crowns and to schedule an appointment contact Dr. Wade and his dental team today.

Fillings

In addition to dental crowns, dental bonding and whitening, our Bethlehem, Connecticut dental practice is pleased to offer tooth-colored fillings.  They are bonded restorations that are strong and offer superior aesthetics. Tooth-colored fillings are becoming increasingly popular and are an excellent alternative to traditional silver amalgam fillings. Not only do they look and feel more like your natural teeth, but technological advances have also made them harder wearing and longer lasting. A small filling may never require repair, while larger fillings in back teeth can last for many years with proper maintenance. Finally, tooth-colored fillings function similar to your natural teeth and allow you to eat, speak and smile with complete confidence.

Veneers

A veneer is a thin covering that is placed over the front (visible) part of a tooth. They can be applied as composites (plastic) or glass (porcelain).  Composites are done chair side in a single visit and porcelain requires two appointments. If your teeth are discolored, chipped or fractured, or showing the effects of excessive wear, porcelain veneers offer a strong, resilient, long-term solution to the problem. Porcelain, like enamel, is translucent, which means light passes through it rather than just being reflected off the exterior surface, resulting in an extremely natural smile.  During the initial appointment we will prepare the teeth and polish them to remove a thin layer of enamel. Then a mold or impression is taken and sent to the dental laboratory for creation of the veneer(s). During the next appointment, after verifying fit, color, and making any necessary adjustments, the veneers are cemented, polished and finished. Now all you have to do is …“keep on smiling,” brushing and flossing.

Conventional Bridges

When teeth are non-restorable or condemned due to periodontal disease and necessitate extraction or removal, there are options for their replacement. A bridge is a fixed (or cemented) appliance that consists of three or more crowns which go over the anchoring teeth (your natural teeth), and the teeth that are missing are filled in with artificial crowns. The bridge is custom fabricated to fit in the gap(s) left by vacant teeth. These restorations are extremely durable, comfortable, long lasting, and simultaneously restore form, function and esthetics. Maryland bridges, are fixed bridges that are discrete and include bonded appliances with minimal tooth reduction. These bridges are bonded to adjacent supporting teeth from invisible areas and replace missing teeth with crowns. Call us for more information on these procedures.

Implants

Another option to replace missing teeth is with an implant. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are permanently inserted in the jaw onto which artificial teeth are attached. These restorations often require a team approach with an oral surgeon performing the surgical procedure of anchoring the implant, while Dr. Wade will apply his expertise in crafting high quality, natural looking crown and bridge work. These procedures often require multiple visits and extended periods of time for complete healing, but the results are often extraordinary. They are desirable alternatives to traditional, partial or full dentures, or even to replace single missing teeth. Implants can also serve as anchors for cemented bridges and full dentures to aid in keeping them in place more securely. We would be happy to advise you if this treatment is for you.

Extractions

An extraction is the removal of an existing tooth. In the case of primary (or baby) teeth this is done to make room or clear the path for permanent teeth, or if a tooth is infected, fractured or deeply decayed. Wisdom teeth require more extensive surgery depending on their location and anatomy and may require referral to an oral surgeon. Loss of secondary (or adult) teeth is a treatment we seek to avoid. Maintaining your natural teeth is the primary goal. We, as dentists, cannot give our patients any adequate dental substitutes better than what they have to start with. However, catastrophic fractures, trauma, and especially untreated periodontal disease, result in the loss of teeth. As always, the best course of treatment is early or preventive so problems do not progress to the ultimate failure: loss of a tooth.

Full (and Partial) Dentures

Full and partial removable dentures are appliances that replace all or several teeth. In the case of partial dentures, retention and support is supplied by clips that attach strategically to remaining teeth and rest on the bone in the area of missing teeth. Plastic or porcelain teeth are placed on partial dentures and replace extracted teeth, restoring the bite in each area. In the case of full (or complete) dentures, all the teeth are replaced. The base of the complete denture is made of a plastic that matches the color of the gums, similar to that of a partial denture. Upper dentures are supported by the maxillary bone and fit against the gums, they are held in place by a thin film of saliva. Lower dentures are supported by the mandibular bone and rely on the lips, tongue and cheeks to stay in place.

Root Canal

One of the most misunderstood dental procedures is root canal therapy which is actually extremely safe and relatively painless. Our teeth are living organs that receive nutrition from the bone and surrounding tissue including the pulp which consists of the blood and nerve networks. This restorative procedure is necessary to relieve the intense pain or “save the tooth” when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. It is essentially a filling that goes inside the tooth to the end of the root tip. The process involves removing the affected pulp through an access drilled into the crown of the tooth. The canal is filled and permanently restored with a dental crown. This therapy is extremely beneficial in that it allows you to alleviate your pain while keeping your natural tooth.

Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gums that starts as gingivitis and can lead to more serious complications of bone loss that support the teeth. There are many types of periodontal disease that commonly affect people of all ages. It is caused by plaque; a sticky bacterial film that is always forming on teeth, and if not removed, allows toxins to provide a home for more bacteria. The bone and other tissues that support teeth are damaged and if left untreated can result in tooth loss often without pain or other obvious symptoms until the tooth gets loose and is unsalvageable. Gingivitis fortunately is reversible with increased plaque control involving rinsing, brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease may require scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) and/or medication, or referral to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in prevention, diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. As always, prevention is the goal and during your dental visit x-rays and a thorough clinical examination will allow Dr. Wade to diagnose this “silent” disease. To learn more about this potentially destructive dental problem contact our office.

Address

101 Main Street South
Bethlehem, CT  06751

Phone:  (203) 266-7435
Fax:  (203) 266-5100

Office Hours

Monday & Tuesday = 7:30am - 6:00pm
Thursday = 9:00am - 8:00pm
Rotating Fridays = 8:00am - 1:00pm
Rotating Saturdays = 8:00am - 1:00pm

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