CLEANINGS/EXAMS- Routine dental cleanings are recommended every 6 months for optimal oral health and hygiene. Even if you brush and floss daily, food particals and bacteria (plaque) collect over time and harden on the teeth, and cannot be removed by a toothbrush. This hardened plaque is called calculus or tartar and must be removed with special dental instruments and techniques. If left on the teeth, these collections of bacteria and food cause bad breath, gum inflammation, bone loss, and tooth decay.
When you come in for your routine cleaning, Dr. Heard will also perform a thorough exam and cancer screening to detect any areas of concern. Regular dental exams, every 6 months, insure that any problems can be detected while they are still small, and corrected easily and inexpensively. When dental problems go undetected, they quickly become big problems, which are always more expensive and more involved to treat. Don't believe the myth that if you have a problem with your teeth or gums, it will hurt and you will know it. The truth is that most problems such as tooth decay or gum disease have no symptoms at all until they become more severe.
X-RAYS- X-rays are a valuable and necessary part of the diagnostic process. Dr. Heard uses a state-of-the-art digital x-ray system that provides an incredibly clear digital image that can be enlarged and adjusted to help diagnose any problems. This system uses only a small fraction of the radiation commonly generated with conventional film dental x-rays. X-rays give Dr. Heard a detailed picture of the inside of the tooth, the roots of the tooth, and the supporting bone and gum tissue. Many problems in the mouth have no symptoms and can only be detected by an x-ray. Not having regular x-rays can result in undiagnosed problems that increase in severity until a painful emergency occurs. We recommend x-rays be taken once a year, or in some cases every 6 months. A full set of x-rays is recommended for most new patients, and updated every 5 years.
FLOURIDE TREATMENT- Flouride is a mineral naturally found in water that is essential in strengthening and protecting our teeth. Over the years some groups have suggested that Flouride is harmful and should not be added to our water supplies or used in toothpaste. Repeated and conclusive evidence shows us that ideal amounts of Flouride are not only safe, but absolutely necessary in the fight against tooth decay. The bacteria present in our mouths produce acid that pulls minerals such as Flouride and Calcium out of our enamel, resulting in a softening of the enamel we call decay. If the acid activity removes more minerals than we supply to our teeth, decay results. Most of us expose our enamel to Flouride and Calcium through the things we eat and drink, and through the use of Flouride tooth-paste. For some patients, these typical sources of Flouride are not enough, and additional Flouride is needed. For those patients we offer periodic in-office Flouride treatments, which involves applying a concentrated Flouride varnish directly to the enamel where it is needed. The varnish is the same color as your teeth, hardens quickly on the teeth, and is not swallowed. This new form of Flouride allows our patients to eat and drink immediately after the application. For our patients who continue to struggle with tooth decay we often reccommend a prescription Flouride gel that is applied each evening at home. Though Flouride treatments are most commonly given to children, they are also beneficial for adults who need help preventing decay.
NON-SURGICAL GUM TREATMENTS- The gums, ligament, and bone surrounding our teeth are the foundation for a healthy mouth. When these foundational tissues are not healthy, our teeth are threatened just as a bad foundation threatens the stability of a house. Many of the same bacteria that cause tooth decay also cause inflammation in these tissues, resulting in gingival bleeding and recession, bone loss, and eventually tooth mobility (loose teeth). The progression through these symptoms is referred to as Periodontal Disease, or Gum Disease. The treatments for gum disease usually begin with a deeper cleaning of the teeth, called Scaling and Root Planing. This process cleans teeth below the gumline where bacteria hide and calculus often forms. Removing these irritants allows the gum and bone tissue to heal, slowing or stopping the damaging bone loss and gingival recession. If the gums are too tender to comfortably tolerate the deep cleaning, numbness is easily achived so the process is painless. Most patients with gum diesase will also be prescribed an antibiotic mouthrinse to kill the offending germs and promote greater tissue health. Once the inflammation is under control, patients may need to have routine cleanings more often than average, usually every 3 to 4 months.