Our dentist, Dr. Stella O. Nnadi, and her team are willing to answer any questions you may have about your oral health and the procedures we provide at our dental practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. Below are the answers to some of the questions we get the most. If you have a question that is not answered here, please give us a call today at 704-688-7588 for clarification.
Why Does Your Office Use Digital X-Rays?
Until recently, our only option when taking a dental X-ray was the exposure of a small film packet, which then took between five and ten minutes to develop. Now, the digital era has brought us an exciting new technology called digital radiography.
The Advantage of Digital Radiography
Digital radiography has many advantages over traditional dental X-rays:
- We can view images instantly
- There’s up to 90 percent less radiation
- We can enhance images in a variety of ways to improve viewing
- Images can be stored electronically for instant retrieval in the future if needed
- We avoid the chemicals used in the traditional developing process
How Digital Radiography Works
With digital radiography, we use a small sensor connected directly to a computer instead of a film packet. Taking X-rays is faster because the sensor is merely moved from tooth to tooth; we don’t need to reload a film positioner for each image. It’s also faster because the X-rays are available immediately on the computer monitor. Because digital X-ray exposure is shorter than taking conventional X-rays, the amount of X-ray radiation is reduced by up to 90 percent.
Digital X-rays allow us to see details and make adjustments that are a tremendous help in our diagnosis. We can also save images in our computer system for instant retrieval at a later date.
Digital radiography is an advanced technology that speeds treatment and helps us make the most accurate and efficient diagnosis of your dental condition
What Can We Do About Oral Cancer?
The American Cancer Society® estimates that oral cancer strikes tens of thousands of Americans each year. Only about 56 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer will survive more than five years.
The reason these statistics are so grim is that oral cancer is often detected in its later stages. But when it’s detected early, before the disease spreads to destroy healthy tissue, the chances of survival are greatly improved.
How Do We Detect Oral Cancer?
Because early detection is vital to surviving oral cancer, we will perform a thorough oral cancer screening each time we see you in our office for an exam.
We’ll feel for lumps or abnormal tissue changes on your neck and inside your mouth. We’ll also thoroughly examine the soft tissue in your mouth, especially the most frequent oral cancer sites: your tongue, the floor of your mouth, your soft palate, your lips and your gums.
What You Can Do?
Come see us at least twice a year for your regular checkups, and let us know if you notice any of these warning signs: a sore that does not heal or the bleeds easily; a red, white, or otherwise discolored patch or lump in or around your mouth; an area that seems to have thickened, raised, or become hardened; a rough patch of tissue; difficulty chewing or swallowing; or a chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
It’s vital that you not ignore a mouth sore just because it doesn’t hurt. Most precancerous and cancerous lesions are completely painless.
You can also minimize your chances of developing oral cancer by making some lifestyle changes. Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco, avoid excessive alcohol usage, and make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day.
How Do We Diagnose Cavities?
Like periodontal disease, cavities are caused by plaque. The bacteria in plaque produce acid, which destroys the enamel of your teeth and causes cavities.
Fighting cavities is sometimes easy, but sometimes it’s not. For hard-to-find cavities, we use a dental explorer and X-rays.
We check the top and sides of your teeth with a dental explorer. To look for cavities between teeth, we use X-rays. Metal fillings and crowns show up as bright white, and cavities show up as dark spots.
It’s far better to catch and restore cavities while they’re still small and in the enamel layer of the tooth. Once they’re in the softer dentin layer, they can grow quickly. If decay makes it to the pulp chamber, infection can grow inside the tooth and may lead to the need for root canal therapy.
h3>>How Do We Diagnose Bite Problems?
During your checkup, we’ll also inspect your bite. A healthy bite allows all of your teeth to hit simultaneously and evenly when your jaw joint is seated into its proper position at the base of your skull. In this position, your chewing muscles are also contracting evenly
Bite problems can cause difficulties with your jaw joint, the TMJ. They can also cause bruxism, which is tooth grinding and clenching, and abfraction, which is the loss of tooth structure that forms notching near the gumline.
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Sensitive teeth often come from the fact that your gums have slightly receded. This recession of the gum line allows the underlying dentin to show through, which allows water and food easier access to the sensitive nerve. To manage this, there are a number of toothpastes, gels and even some dental procedures that can be applied. Speak to us in more detail if you have very sensitive teeth.
What Should I Do to Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay?
Great teeth and gum care start at home. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis is the best way to take care of your teeth and gums on a continual basis. By keeping to a daily routine, you will greatly minimize the risk of gingivitis or tooth decay as you age.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a quiet disease that begins with little or no symptoms. It is caused by bacteria that surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The immediate condition is known as gingivitis. The gums become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. If not properly treated, the condition worsens. Noticeable symptoms now appear. They include:
- Bad breath
- Gum recession
- Gum sensitivity to acidic foods
- Tooth pain
- Tooth loss
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a condition caused when bacteria surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The gums can become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. In order to prevent the condition from worsening, regular hygiene visits are highly recommended. During your visit, our hygiene team will teach you the proper flossing techniques and oral hygiene protocol for home care will prevent periodontal disease.
How Do You Diagnose Periodontal Disease?
Since you may have no symptoms with periodontal disease, we perform a thorough examination with a periodontal probe and X-rays.
With periodontal disease, the bone level falls, and the gums pull away from the tooth, forming a pocket. We use a probe to take measurements from the bottom of the pocket, where it’s attached to the tooth, to the top of the gums. A probe reading of more than 3 millimeters is a sign of periodontal disease. Bleeding, which sometimes happens when we measure your gums, is also a sign of infection.
Healthy gums fit tight against the teeth. There aren’t any pockets, and they don’t bleed.
In early and moderate periodontal disease, the gums are red and swollen with infection, especially the gums between the teeth. This is where periodontal disease usually starts.
X-rays tell us a lot about periodontal disease. In a healthy mouth, the bone comes up high around the necks of the teeth, and it’s even throughout the mouth. In advance periodontal disease, the bone level is much lower and the bone levels are uneven.
X-rays also show us tartar on the teeth. Finding tartar, which is hardened and mineralized plaque, is important because periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque.
How Do You Treat Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a chronic condition that needs immediate attention. Through a series of periodontal cleanings, root planing and scaling, laser therapy, and local antibiotics, this condition can be controlled. Periodontal surgery is only necessary for severe cases.
What Is the Difference Between a White Filling and a Silver Filling?
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, have been around for decades. Made from a metal alloy, they were the best material for fillings. The metal expands and contracts with the heat and cold placed in the mouth. This allowed for little bacteria to enter a tooth once filled, keeping the tooth healthy and strong.
White Fillings, also known as composites, are often made of plastic or glass polymers. These cosmetic fillings allow us to fill a cavity with a substance that will look and feel just like your existing tooth structure. This restoration is created with a resin material and fits tightly into a tooth to prevent decay. Rather than a gray or silver material in your mouth, the composite color will match the tooth color.
How Can I Improve My Smile?
There are several ways in today’s dental world to enhance your smile. Certain procedures include:
- Teeth whitening
- Porcelain veneers
- Porcelain crowns
We have the capability to improve your smile using all or some of these procedures. For an exact consultation, please contact our office so that we may provide you with a customized treatment plan.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth Whitening is a cost-effective and safe procedure to create a beautiful, healthy smile. Over the years, fluoride has been added to the whitening product. This reduces the risk of tooth and gum sensitivity.
Tooth Whitening must be monitored by a dentist and only done after a comprehensive exam and hygiene cleaning.
The whitening process can last for a number of years if maintained properly. Beverages such as coffee, tea, cola and wine will reduce the lasting effect. Remember, if it could stain a white shirt, it will stain your smile!
What Is Bonding?
Bonding is a cost-effective procedure used to fill gaps in front teeth and to change a tooth’s color. The immediate results are amazing. Within a few hours, you will have a great smile! Bonding, like teeth whitening, may change color over time due to coffee, tea, cola and wine.
What Are Porcelain Veneers?
Porcelain Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that go directly on your natural teeth. This entire procedure can take as few as two visits. Veneers change the size, shape and color of a patient’s teeth. This procedure is used to repair fractured teeth, teeth darkened by age or medication, or a crooked smile. Many times, patients ask for porcelain veneers to simply feel and look younger with a straighter, whiter smile!
What Are Crowns?
Crowns are a permanent cosmetic procedure that covers the entire tooth. They can change the size, shape and color of the teeth in as few as two visits.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a “man-made” replacement for a missing tooth or tooth root. Made from titanium, this screw-like object is inserted under the gum and directly into the upper or lower jaw bone. There is usually minimal discomfort involved in this procedure. After a period of a few months, the dental implant and the bone fuse together. This creates an anchor for the new tooth to be placed onto the dental implant.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
- Dental implants look and function like your natural tooth.
- Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth.
- Dental implants are maintained by routine hygiene visits to your dental office.
- Dental implants decrease the possibility of bone loss, periodontal disease, tooth movement and further tooth loss.
- Dental implants replace the need for a removable full or partial denture.
- Dental implants focus only on the tooth or teeth that are missing. A traditional bridge would involve the two or more adjacent teeth being compromised to create a false tooth in between.
Who Is a Candidate for Dental Implants?
With major advancements in dentistry and dental implants, most people are candidates for dental implants. There may be exceptions due to chronic illness, heart disease, and severe osteoporosis.
What Does the Dental Implant Procedure Involve?
The average dental implant procedure takes three to four visits. The first visit is to X-ray the area and take an impression for a surgical guide and a temporary prosthesis to cover the Implant.
The next visit is to place the Implant. Local anesthesia is applied to the area. (Any additional sedation is no longer necessary unless deemed by our dentist). A minor incision is then made to place the implant. The implant is placed into the jaw bone. The area will then be covered with sutures. The procedure is usually completed with minor pain.
You will next return in approximately three months to begin creating the porcelain crown to place over the implant.
How Much Does a Dental Implant Cost?
Fees from dental implants vary from dentist to dentist. Always schedule an implant consultation to discuss the procedure and all fees involved.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Last?
With routine dental hygiene appointments and proper home care, a dental implant can last approximately 30 years to a lifetime.
Does Our Office Offer Financing for Services Provided?
Please contact us at 704-688-7588 to discuss the options we have available to make your perfect smile today!