We are extremely fortunate at Melancon Family Dentistry to have excellent dental hygienists as members of our staff. At your routine cleaning appointment, you will receive a thorough periodontal exam, a thorough dental cleaning, an exam by the dentist, and select radiographs when necessary.
Dental x-rays are a necessary part of the diagnostic process, and not using x-rays could lead to undiagnosed dental disease. At our office, we routinely do four bitewing radiographs each year, which allow us to diagnose dental decay that arises between the teeth. New patients may also receive a panoramic radiograph, which gives us a total picture of the teeth and the supporting structures.
Sealants are low viscosity, resin-based product that flows in the narrow fissures that are present on the top surfaces of our posterior teeth. Sealants may sometimes be recommended for young children depending on the extent and depth of the surface fissures of the posterior teeth.
Bleaching is the procedure of making your natural teeth whiter, and therefore more attractive. Our office uses several methods: Pre-fabricated tray whitening with a 10% Hydrogen Peroxide gel as well as custom tray fabrication with a 15% Carbamide Peroxide gel. We do not offer the “Instant” whitening procedures due to the increased tooth sensitivity associated with these types of procedures. The pre-fabricated tray whitening method comes with 10 pre-loaded soft trays and instructions for application and use. The custom tray whitening method consists of having upper and lower alginate impressions taken and having stone models poured from those impressions. A retainer is made that conforms tightly to the teeth and will be conservatively loaded with the bleaching gel from a syringe and worn 1 – 2 times per day for approximately one hour each time. The custom bleaching tray can also be worn for maintenance every few months once the desired level of bleaching has been achieved.
The gum tissue, bone, and the periodontal ligament around the teeth are collectively referred to as the periodontium. The periodontium is the supporting structure of the teeth and good at-home oral hygiene as well as routine in-office dental cleanings are essential in maintaining a healthy periodontium. Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontal disease and is identified by gingival redness, puffiness, and bleeding. Periodontal disease is when bone loss around the teeth occurs. Some signs of periodontal disease are as follows: Gingival tissue that is pulling away from the tooth surface, persistent bad breath, and loose or shifting teeth. Gingivitis can usually be treated with a normal dental cleaning. Treatment of periodontal disease will require a deep cleaning referred to as scaling and root planing completed under local anesthetic. The deep cleaning will usually take 2 – 3 appointments to complete. If the periodontal disease becomes too severe, periodontal surgery or extraction may be necessary. It is very important to treat periodontal disease at the first sign of symptoms.
Dental restorations are necessary to remove decay and replace the excavated tooth structure. The type of filling used is dependent upon the dentist’s judgment based upon the specific clinical situation. We are able to restore teeth with both amalgam (silver fillings) as well as resin-based composite (tooth colored fillings) depending on the clinical situation. We mainly use resin (tooth colored fillings) when restoring teeth. It is essential to complete fillings as early as possible. If not treated in a timely manner, tooth decay can lead to pain and/or infection which may result in the need for a root canal or an extraction.
Root canal therapy, which is also referred to as endodontic therapy, is necessary when a cavity or a fracture propagates into the nerve of the tooth, also referred to as the pulp. Once the pulp becomes infected, the infection can spread to the end of the root of the affected tooth leading to abscess formation. If left untreated, a localized abscess can spread to different fascial planes and spaces. A dental abscess is normally very painful, but can sometimes be asymptomatic. A root canal is performed to remove the nerve from the nerve canal and completely disinfect the canal. The canals are then filled with a filling material and a build-up and crown are placed on the treated tooth to finalize the treatment. Certain teeth, such as second molars as well as teeth that have been crowned or had a previous root canal, may need to be treated by an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who has received years of specialized training in treating difficult root canal systems and has the ability to treat very difficult endodontic cases. Dr. Melancon will make the decision to treat or refer on a case by case basis, with regard to what is the best option for the patient.
Crowns are complete coverage restorations that are used when the structural integrity of the tooth is no longer intact, and a filling will not adequately restore the tooth to proper form and function. Crowns are normally done after a root canal is completed or after there is a large fracture of an existing restoration or a portion of the tooth. Two appointments are needed to complete fabrication and final cementation of a crown. The first appointment will consist of a crown preparation, final impression for the laboratory, and fabrication and cementation of a temporary crown. The second appointment will consist of removal of the temporary crown and fitting of the permanent crown. If the crown has a quality fit, final cementation of the crown can be completed and the procedure is finished. Very rarely the crown may need to be sent back to the lab if a quality fit cannot be achieved. If this is the case, the temporary crown will be re-cemented and one more final cementation appointment may be necessary. Advances in dental materials have allowed dentists to have many options with regards to what material the crown is composed of. Solid gold crowns are still a great option for areas of the mouth that are not visible or for patients who grind and clench their teeth. Zirconia and all porcelain crowns are also available and offer excellent esthetic results with great translucency in both the anterior and posterior regions of the mouth.
Fixed bridges are an option for filling in the space created by a missing tooth. The bridge is formed so as to fit directly over the gum tissue and to appear as an actual tooth. The sides of the bridge utilize the two teeth adjacent to the open space to create a 3-tooth unit. A bridge can be made of the same materials that a single crown is made of: porcelain fused to metal, gold, zirconia and all-porcelain in certain instances. It is important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible with either a fixed bridge, removable bridge, or a dental implant. If not treated, the teeth surrounding the space can begin to shift inward and the tooth directly above the missing tooth can begin to drift downward over time. The occlusion, or bite, needs to be maintained or other problems may arise.
Veneers are a thin covering placed on the facial surface of the tooth. Veneers can be done directly, which involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using direct bonding. The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the teeth will be prepared, impressed, and temporized at the first appointment. The patient will then return to have the final porcelain veneers permanently cemented once they return from the dental laboratory. Veneers may be a good option to address your esthetic and functional dental needs.
Dental implants have revolutionized dentistry and allowed greater treatment options for patients with missing teeth. A dental implant can best be described as a screw type device that is implanted into the bone and allowed to integrate with the bone, creating a solid replacement of a missing tooth. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, an abutment is placed on the implant which raises a piece of titanium or zirconia out of the gum tissue. A crown can then be fabricated onto the abutment completing the treatment and leaving the patient with a naturally looking and functioning tooth. Dental implants are a great treatment option, but with all treatments there are pros and cons. Each case is different, and we will work hard to gather information from each patient in order to find out what will be the best treatment option.