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Choosing a Dentist

Choosing a dentist is an important decision. Thus, our goal is to assist you in making that decision. When selecting a family dentist, you may want to begin your search in several different ways:

Ask a family physician. He or she is in constant contact with all kinds of
healthcare professionals and will be able to point you in the right direction.
Ask family, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers.
Contact your local dental school and ask a faculty member.
View the ADA directory, which is located in many public libraries.
Another way to find a dentist is through a dental referral service, but many of these services require dentists to pay for their listings. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something you should be made aware of.

dentist with patientOnce you've narrowed down your search, make sure your new family dentist has completed the necessary requirements to be a dentist. For instance, dentists must be state licensed and recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). Also, their training must include three or more years of undergraduate school and an additional four years of dental training at a dental school. These are just the minimum requirements needed to obtain a dental degree. With a degree, a dentist is able to perform common procedures such as routine dental check-ups, dental x-rays, cavity fillings, teeth cleaning, halitosis treatment and general tooth extraction. However, if your dental needs go beyond routine care then there are several specialties for each specific need. Each specialty requires an additional two to four years of schooling (see section on Dental Specialties).

Different specialties include:

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist (studies oral diseases)
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (removes teeth/tissue in oral cavity)
Orthodontist (attaches braces, retainers and corrective devices)
Periodontist (specializes in gums and associated tissue)
Prosthodontist (performs full mouth rehabilitation)
Endodontist                                (specializes in root canal therapy)
Pediatric Dentist (specializes in infants, children and teens,
formerly Pedodontist )
Public Health Dentist (Promotes good dental health)
Your primary dentist will refer you to a specialist if needed.

How Dentists Were Selected

Consumers’ Research Council of America has compiled an accurate list of Top Dentists throughout the United States by utilizing a point value system. This method uses a point value for criteria that we deemed valuable in determining Top Dentists. The criteria that was used is as follows:

Dentist holding Toothbrush Experience: Each year the dentist has been in practice
Training: Education and Continuing Education
Board Certification: ADA recognized Dental specialties
Professional Associations: Membership in Dental associations

Simply put, dentists that have accumulated a certain amount of points qualified for the list. This does not mean that professionals that did not accumulate enough points are not good dentists, but merely did not qualify for this list because of the points needed.

Similar studies have been done with other professions using a survey system. This type of study would ask fellow professionals whom they would recommend; we found this method to be more of a popularity contest. For instance, professionals who work in a large office have much more of a chance of being mentioned than a professional who has a small private practice. In addition, many professionals have a financial arrangement for back-and-forth referrals. For these reasons, we developed the point value system.

Of course, there is no study that is 100% accurate since this is a subjective call. As with any profession, there will be some degree of variance in opinion. If you survey 100 patients from a particular physician on their satisfaction level, you will undoubtedly hear that some are very satisfied, some moderately satisfied and some dissatisfied. This is really quite normal.

We feel that a point value system takes out the personal and emotional factors and deals only with factual criteria. We have made certain assumptions, i.e., more years in practice is better than less years in practice; more education is better than less education, etc.

The Top Dentist list that we have compiled is current as of a certain date and other dentists may have qualified since that date. Nonetheless, we feel that this list of Top Dentists is a good starting point to help you find a qualified professional.

No fees, donations, sponsorships or advertising are accepted from any individuals, professionals, corporations or associations. This policy is strictly adhered to, ensuring an unbiased selection.

Causes of Bad Breath

Everybody has bad breath from time to time, especially first thing in the morning. You also may have bad breath when you are hungry, when you are dieting, or after eating foods with a strong odor, such as garlic, onions, or pastrami.

Transient bad breath is a very common temporary condition caused by such things as oral dryness, stress, hunger, eating certain foods such as garlic and onions, smoking, or poor oral hygiene. Morning breath is a common example of transient bad breath. Transient bad breath gradually disappears on its own, with the aid of chewing gum or brushing one's teeth.

Chronic bad breath is a more serious and persistent condition affecting up to 25% of the population in varying degrees. It can negatively impact the individual's personal and business relationships, leading to poor self-esteem and increased stress. This condition is usually caused by persistent overpopulation of certain types of oral bacteria, primarily streptococcus mutans, and requires specialized treatment.

Many things can cause bad breath. A major cause is decreased saliva. Saliva has a cleaning action that helps reduce or eliminate bad breath. When saliva decreases, bacteria can grow, causing bad breath. 

Bad breath caused by a decrease in saliva may be especially noticeable:

In the morning. The flow of saliva almost stops during sleep. The reduced cleaning action of the saliva allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath. 
When you are hungry. Bad breath is more common in people who miss meals or are dieting. Chewing food increases saliva in the mouth. When you are not eating, saliva decreases and bacteria growth increases, causing bad breath.
When you are dehydrated. When you become dehydrated, you do not produce as much saliva. The reduced cleaning action of the saliva allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
Diseases that affect the salivary glands.
When you are taking certain medicines.
After drinking alcoholic beverages.
Mouth and throat problems that can cause mouth odor include:
Throat or mouth infections, such as strep throat.
Dental problems, such as cavities.
Gum disease may cause a metallic breath odor.
Tonsils with deep tunnels that trap food particles.
Throat or mouth cancers.
To help improve your breath: 
Gargle with water.
Brush your teeth, tongue, roof of your mouth, and gums at least twice a day with 
Floss your teeth once each day. 
Eat a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Eat less meat.
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products, such as snuff or chewing tobacco.
Eat at regular intervals. Dieting or missing meals can decrease saliva and cause 
bad breath.
Chew sugar-free gum, suck on sugar-free mints, or drink water, especially if your 
mouth is dry. Try using breath sticks, which contain the ingredients found in a 
mouthwash and dissolve in your mouth.
Use a mouthwash for temporary relief of bad breath. Swish it around in your 
mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Have regular dental checkups.

About Dentures

Dentures are used when a patient has lost real teeth on the mandibular arch (the lower jaw), the maxillary arch (the upper jaw), or both. Patients can become entirely edentulous (without teeth) due to severe malnutrition, genetic defects such as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta, ineffective oral hygiene or trauma.

Dentures can help give the edentulous patient better chewing abilities, as well as enhance the aesthetic appeal of their lips in specific and their entire face in general.
Types of Dentures:

Complete Dentures

These replace all of your teeth, upper or lower. Their comfort depends on muscle, bones, tongue and saliva. 

Upper Dentures

Upper Dentures tend to be a bit easier to adjust too. These are made of the same materials as a complete denture, but are designed to provide you with upper teeth only.

Over Dentures

Over Dentures are similar to complete dentures. The difference is that not all teeth are extracted and they use one or more natural teeth for their support. This type provides greater stabilization during chewing. Over dentures cost more and typically require more preparation dental appointments until the procedure is fully complete.

Partial Dentures

Designed to correct the gaps in your smile when only some of your teeth are missing. Metal attachments anchor the dentures to your natural teeth. Partial dentures maintain tooth alignment by preventing your remaining teeth from shifting. Partial dentures can also help prevent your loss of more teeth due to decay or gum disease.
Costs will vary depending on where you live and your needs. Prices range between $500 to $2,500 per upper or lower arch.

Dentures definitely provide a great smile with a surprisingly natural appearance. They're made of very durable materials and last a long time when properly taken care of. Typically dentures last from five to ten years. They also correct several problems, from speech to chewing, for many patients.

About Your Teeth

cross-section of toothThe human teeth serve multiple functions. The two most prevalent uses are chewing food, and the use in the process of speech. Your teeth are attached to the upper and lower jawbone and are hard and calcified. Extra care should be taken with your teeth, because unlike other organs in your body, your teeth are not self-reparative. Essentially, a broken, chipped or decayed tooth will not grow back.

Inside your tooth is dentin, a bone-like substance that extends from the root into the surface of the enamel. A hard layer of tissue called cementum covers the dentin. Elastic fibers hold the roots in place and extend from the cementum to a layer of bone within the jaw. Blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue pass through the root canal opening.

We get two sets of teeth between infancy and adulthood. The first set of teeth contains twenty teeth and are called deciduous teeth, or more commonly, baby teeth. As your jaw grows and matures, the second set of thirty-two larger. permanent teeth replace the deciduous set.

Preventative Care


Over a half-century ago, scientists noticed that certain areas in Colorado were found to have a very low rate of tooth decay. This data prompted scientists to research this phenomena. Scientists soon discovered that the Colorado area water supply contained high amounts of fluoride.

In 1944, controlled water-fluoridation programs began to test the theory that fluorides would reduce tooth decay. They added a small amount of fluoride to drinking water (one part fluoride to one million parts of water) and studied this controlled group for a period of ten years. The outcome of this study was nothing short of astonishing. The results clearly showed that dental decay in children was reduced by more than half.

The fluoridation of water has become a controversial subject in America. Currently over two-thirds of people drink fluoridated water. Fluoride is effective because it puts a protective coating over your teeth, which helps prevent tooth decay. There is only one side-effect known to be linked to drinking fluoridated water: a rare condition called Fluorosis. If babies drink too much fluoridated water, their teeth can become stained. The teeth are healthy but unsightly.

However, the benefits of fluoride far outweigh the negative aspects of water fluoridation. Your mouth contains bacteria which grows and multiplies; fluoridation stops this from happening. There have been hundreds of studies on fluoridation which document positive effects, and not one study has been able to produce evidence to the contrary. In 1991, the United States Public Health Service reported that water fluoridation is safe and effective. The American Dental Association is strongly in favor of fluoridation.

What are Sealants?

teeth and gumsDental sealants can be an effective way to reduce the possibility of tooth decay. A tooth sealant is a coating that the dentist bonds to the surface of your tooth. The sealant fills any crevices, pits and fissures that could have trapped food particles in them. The sealant, in effect, smoothes the surface of the tooth, which makes it less likely to trap food particles. Tooth decay is directly related to plaque, which forms on teeth. The best way to prevent the buildup of plaque is to brush your teeth on a frequent basis. The teeth located in the back of your mouth, primarily your molars, are difficult to reach and to clean because of the deep grooves in the chewing part of the tooth. The sealant makes it much easier for food particles to be brushed away, resulting in much less chance of tooth decay. Dental sealants are primarily used on children. Sealants are recommended on a case-by-case basis. Teeth that have the characteristics of deep pits and fissures are good candidates for this procedure. The actual process to having your teeth sealed is virtually pain-free and quite simple.


Your diet is important in all aspects of maintaining a healthy body and nourishing your various organs. It is just as important for your dental health in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. People who do not eat a balanced diet tend to have poor dental health. This affects all people, from infants to adults.

Bacteria lives in your mouth and is attracted to sugars and starches. The bacteria uses them to produce acids that can destroy and damage your tooth enamel. Tooth decay begins after constant consumption of these types of foods. The more sugar and starch that enters your mouth, the more damage occurs. Eat wisely and avoid food with high sugar and starch content.


teeth and brushBrushing is one of the most simple and effective ways of preventing tooth decay. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day. It is important to use the correct type of brush; a gentle brushing can be just as effective as a hard and fast brushing with a stiff brush. The hard , stiff brush can actually cause damage to gum tissue and eventually start to remove enamel from your teeth. Most people brush for twenty to thirty seconds but an effective brushing takes about two minutes. Brushing is important and it is recommended to use a fluoride toothpaste for added protection.


As mentioned earlier, brushing is effective for removing food particles from the exterior of your teeth. Flossing helps in cleaning your teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. These areas are between the teeth and below the gumline, and are susceptible to tooth decay. When you floss, you are cleaning an additional thirty percent of your teeth, which is a big improvement and can make a dramatic difference in the prevention of tooth decay.

The Future

CNN reported that British scientists have developed a vaccine that can prevent tooth decay by eliminating bacteria in your mouth. They have developed an odorless and tasteless vaccine that they claim is the future in dental preventative care.

According to the report, the vaccine is a plant-based substance that is applied to the exterior of your teeth and produces antibodies that eliminate harmful bacteria from adhering to your teeth and causing cavities. Studies thus far have shown positive results.

All About Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, bone, and/or tissue that surrounds and support the teeth. Gingivitis and Periodontitis are the two main stages of gum disease. The form and severity of gum disease may vary depending on how gum tissue reacts to plaque and bacteria. It can affect all or part of the gums.

Early-stage gum disease, which is called Gingivitis, causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. Because Gingivitis usually doesn't cause pain, many people delay treatment. With proper dental care it can be reversed.

Advanced gum disease—known as Periodontitis—develops if the disease progresses and affects more than the gums. The gums draw away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where plaque can grow and do further damage. These small spaces between teeth and gums may gather debris and can become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that holds teeth in place. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Periodontitis can progress until the bones that support the teeth are damaged. At this point, there is no longer an anchor for the teeth, which become progressively loose. Ultimately tooth loss may occur.


Gum disease is caused primarily by the growth of bacteria on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce gum-irritating chemicals and form plaque on the teeth. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless plaque on teeth. Brushing and flossing will help get rid of plaque.  Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing doesn't clean.  Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or Dental Hygienist can remove tartar. There are other factors that can increase your chances of getting gum disease, including cigarette smoking. Individuals may inherit a tendency toward developing gum disease.


Although the symptoms of gum disease are often subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain indicators that may point to some form of the disease include:

Gums that bleed during and after brushing

Dentist holding Toothbrush

Red, swollen or tender gums

Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth

Receding gums

Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums

Loose or shifting teeth

Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting

Any of these symptoms may signal a serious problem, which should be checked by a dentist. Despite aggressive oral care habits, people who are genetically predisposed may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease.


The treatment for gum disease is to control any infection that exists and to stop progression of the disease. Treatment options include healthy eating, proper brushing and flossing, and non-surgical therapies that control the growth of harmful bacteria. In more advanced cases of the disease, surgery may be needed to restore supportive tissue.

Although brushing and flossing are equally important, brushing  only eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that the brush can reach. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline. Both should be used as part of a regular at-home treatment plan. Some dentists also recommend specialized toothbrushes, such as those that are motorized and have smaller heads, which may be more effective at removing plaque than a standard toothbrush.

There are also some other treatments for gum disease. Using tartar-control toothpaste that contains fluoride will help slow the progress of gum disease. An antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, will help kill bacteria. Carefully use a toothpick after meals if you are unable to brush your teeth right away. Stop using tobacco of any kind—it decreases your ability to fight infection of the gums and delays healing.


Gum disease can be prevented for the most part by following a couple of easy steps. For example, Brushing your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed can usually help prevent gum disease. Also, flossing once a day is recommended. Be sure to visit your dentist for regular checkups—usually twice a year.

General Dentistry and
Recognized Specialties

As in other medical fields, dentistry is divided into areas of specialties. The following are the eight recognized fields of  dental specialty:


Endodontists are specialists that focus on root canal treatment. They deal with surgical and therapeutic procedures in the protection and treatment of the pulp, commonly know as the nerve. Endodontists attend an additional advanced dental school program of two to three years and usually limit their practice to Endodontics.

Oral Pathology

The Oral Pathologist is concerned with the diagnosis of oral diseases. This analysis is accomplished through laboratory testing of bodily fluids and microscopic tissue. Generally, an Oral Pathologist works in a laboratory of a hospital or medical facility and deals through the patient's General Practitioner.

Oral Surgery

Oral Surgeons are dental specialists that deal in many aspects of surgery in the mouth and jaw area. They diagnose and provide surgical procedures for diseases, injury and malformation. Many Oral Surgeons perform biopsies and removal of growths, cysts and tumors in the head, neck and jaw region of the body.

An important part of the Oral Surgeon's routine is the removal of teeth. Many tooth extraction procedures can be complicated because of the location of the tooth, or if the tooth is impacted (embedded in the jawbone or soft tissue). Some Oral Surgeons specialize in setting fractures and the correction of cleft palates and harelip.

Oral Surgeons usually have four or more years in continuing education after graduating dental school and limit their practice to Oral Surgery and related procedures.


Orthodontists are specialists that straighten teeth. They deal with a condition called Malocclusion, which is tooth position in relationship to the jaw. The Orthodontist will study the mouth, jaw and bone structure and determine if the teeth are in the correct position.

Based on the analysis, the Orthodontist may wish to realign the teeth with headgear, braces, bands, wires or retainers. Many times teeth have to be removed in order for the teeth to be aligned properly. Orthodontists treat young children as well as adults. More and more adults are getting braces and realize the value of a beautiful smile.

Orthodontists usually have two or more years of continuing education and limit their practice to Orthodontics.

Pediatric Dentistryboy at dentist

The Pediatric Dentist, formerly called a Pedodontist, specializes in the oral health care of children. This type of dentist has had special training to work with patient ages ranging from infants to teenagers. Their scope of training helps them to deal with special patients who may have had physical or mental handicaps.

The Pediatric Dentist can perform all aspects of general dentistry and can detect early problems with missing, crowded or decaying teeth. They usually have two or more years of specialized training in this field.


This field of dentistry deals with the supporting structures and tissue surrounding the teeth. A Periodontist diagnoses and treats various gum diseases. Decay of the teeth located both over and under the gum tissue act as an irritant. Inflammation of the gum is called Gingivitis, and Periodontitis is when infections start to destroy gums and bone.

Periodontists perform everything from simple tooth cleaning to complicated bone surgeries and bone grafting. Many also place dental implants into the jaw. A Periodontist generally has two to three years of additional training after they graduate dental school.


A Prosthodontist is a dentist that deals with full mouth restorations. They have various methods of providing artificial substitutes for missing teeth, including dentures. Various restorative procedures are performed which can include constructing a crown, designing a bridge and replacing missing teeth.

Other phases of this specialty include implant surgery, or making dentures when a full set of teeth is required. A Prosthodontist may also replace portions of the oral cavity because of malformations or other deficiencies. Three or more years of training after graduation from dental school is usually required to specialize in this field.

Public Health Dentistry

This field of dentistry is concerned with the promotion of good dental heath throughout communities. The focus of this specialty is to prevent and control dental diseases. This field of dentistry covers three areas: Research, Clinical Dentistry and Public Health.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry means enhancing a person's smile and making their teeth aesthetically beautiful. It is considered an art and science which encompasses such cosmetic procedures as teeth whitening and bleaching, bonding and veneers.


A primary candidate for bleaching is someone who has moderately stained or discolored teeth. The stains or discoloration generally cannot be removed through a standard professional cleaning. The dentist will make a mold of your teeth and make a custom-fitted mouth tray that will hold the bleaching agent against your teeth and isolate it from mouth, lips and gum tissue. The mouth tray is designed so you can use it at home. Most people wear it for 30 to 120 minutes a day and sometimes longer. A noticeable improvement is usually seen between ten and fourteen days. The duration of use is determined by how light you want your teeth; the longer you wear the mouth tray the whiter your teeth will become. Be aware that sometimes you cannot get the color you wanted and you may have to make a compromise for a little less than you hoped for. (See WHITENING, below.)


dentist with patientBonding is a method of improving the appearance of your teeth. This is achieved by a dentist bonding a tooth-colored resin onto your existing teeth. A primary candidate for this procedure is someone who wants stains on teeth concealed, gaps closed, or worn or chipped teeth and fractures repaired. The procedure commences by the dentist slightly etching the surface of the tooth so that the bonding material will have a better surface to adhere to. The tooth is treated with bonding material and the dentist then shines a special light on it to set it. The next step is to apply a putty-like material to the tooth, mold it to the desired shape, and shine the special light on it again to harden the material. The dentist then does the final shaping and polishes the resin finish.


Veneering is a method of improving the appearance of your teeth. People who get veneers generally want to close gaps between teeth, repair fractures, cover a discolored tooth or even straighten a tooth. Veneers are usually preferred over bonding because they are more durable, stronger and stain resistant. The procedure generally requires two office visits. During the first visit the dentist initiates the preparation stage. This consists of removing a small amount of enamel and etching the tooth surface prior to making an impression. The impression is then sent to a lab for a veneer to be made and fit to the tooth. On the second office visit, the dentist adheres the veneer to the tooth and files and polishes the veneer. Veneers will usually last five or more years.

Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening has become very popular over the past few years. There are different whitening processes available on the market with claims of making teeth from 6 to 9 shades whiter. Whitening is simply any process that makes the teeth appear whiter. If you are considering getting your teeth whitened it is recommended that you consult with your dentist. For some patients the tooth whitening process can be very effective while others may not get the desired results. Not all tooth discolorations are correctable. For instance, if you have had bonding, veneers or tooth-color fillings in your front teeth there are potential problems. Your dentist can advise you about which procedures will give you the best results. Bleaching is a common tooth-whitening procedure done in dental offices. There are also many over-the-counter whitening kits available. The kits include a mouth tray (like an athletic mouth guard) that will hold a bleaching agent. When you go to a dentist for whitening, they will make you a custom-fitted mouth tray that will help in applying the bleaching agent evenly. You wear the mouth tray for a designated amount of time and the bleaching agent surrounds your teeth and begins to work. Some products are used twice a day for a period of one to two weeks.

The bleaching agents contain carbamide peroxides, which vary in concentrations. The most common strengths available are 10, 16, and 22 percent. They usually come in gel form and this consistency seems to work the best. The products that contain carbamide peroxide actually bleach the tooth enamel. When professionally applied, hydrogen peroxide concentrations range from 10 to 35 percent and are sometimes used in conjunction with a light or laser. This accelerates the whitening process.

Dental Implants

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root replacement and is used in prosthetic dentistry. There are several types. The most widely accepted and successful is the osseointegrated implant, based on the discovery that titanium could be successfully incorporated into bone when osteoblasts grow on and into the rough surface of the implanted titanium. This forms a structural and functional connection between the living bone and the implant.

A typical implant consists of a titanium screw, with a roughened surface. This surface is treated either by plasma spraying, etching or sandblasting to increase the integration potential of the implant. At edentulous (without teeth) jaw sites, a pilot hole is bored into the recipient bone, taking care to avoid vital structures. To expand this pilot hole the dentist will use progressively wider drills. Care is taken not to damage the osteoblast cells by overheating. The implant screw can be self-tapping, and is screwed into place at a precise torque so as not to overload the surrounding bone. Once in the bone, a cover
screw is placed and the operation site is allowed to heal for a few months for integration
to occur.

After some months the implant is uncovered and a healing abutment and temporary
crown is placed onto the implant. This encourages the gum to grow in the right scalloped
shape to approximate a natural tooth's gums and allows assessment of the final aesthetics
of the restored tooth. Once this has occurred a permanent crown will be constructed and
placed on the implant.

An increasingly common strategy to preserve bone and reduce treatment times includes
the placement of a dental implant into a recent extraction site. In addition, immediate
loading is becoming more common as success rates for this procedure are now
acceptable. This can cut months off of the treatment time and in some cases a prosthetic
tooth can be attached to the implants at the same time as the surgery to place the dental
implants. Typically, a single tooth implant plus crown costs around $3500. Full mouth
reconstructions with dental implants can start around $12,000 per arch and can approach
$50,000 per arch depending on the complexity of the case.
Dental implant success is related to operator skill, quality and quantity of the bone
available at the site, and also to the patient's oral hygiene. 5-year success rate of implants
have a range between 75-95%. Patients who smoke experience significantly poorer
success rates.

Common Dental Procedures

Tooth Extraction

A tooth may be extracted for many reasons.  The tooth may be too badly damaged or decayed to be saved by root canal therapy, may be causing crowding, or may be loose from advanced gum disease. Tooth removal may be performed either by your dentist or an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon—a surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the mouth. Before removing your tooth, your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. A stronger, general anesthetic may be used, especially if several or all of your teeth need to be removed. General anesthesia prevents pain in the whole body and will make you groggy or put you to sleep through the procedure. Typically, it takes only a few days to recover from a tooth extraction. Be sure to follow the home care instructions given to you by your dentist or oral surgeon. With all surgery, there are some risks: Tooth extraction can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. Also, gum tissue is at risk of infection. You may need to take antibiotics before and after surgery if you have a condition that puts you at high risk for developing an infection.

Root Canal

dentist, tools and toothToday, dentists use root canal treatment to find the cause, then treat problems of the tooth's soft core, known as dental pulp. Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Now, root canal treatments have given dentists a safe method of saving teeth.

The pulp is the soft tissue that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It lies within the tooth and extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root in the bone of the jaw. When the pulp is diseased or injured and cannot repair itself, it dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a severe cavity. Both of these problems can let bacteria enter the pulp, which can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip and in the jawbone, forming a pus-pocket, called an abscess. Abscesses can cause damage to the bone around the teeth.

Usually, treatment requires one to three visits. During the treatment, your general dentist or Endodontist—a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp—removes the diseased pulp. Then, the pulp chamber and root canal of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed.

If you properly care for the fixed tooth, it should last a lifetime. However, regular dental checkups are necessary. As long as the surrounding tissue is nourished, it should keep the repaired tooth healthy.

Crowns and Caps

Crowns are a type of dental restoration which, when set into place, fully cup over the portion of a tooth which lies at and above the gum line. To compare, fillings are dental restorations that are used to fill in or cover over just a portion of a tooth. Since dental crowns enclose the entire visible portion of a tooth, a dental crown becomes the tooth's new outer surface.

People eat a lot of sugar—especially as children—which decays teeth. When decay is minimal, a cavity filling can be sufficient. However, when decay is severe, a crown will have to be performed. Some people break their teeth due to grinding or trauma. Sometimes the teeth are naturally crooked, discolored, or malformed; a crown will be needed to fix these problems. Teeth that are more than half filling material should be crowned. A dentist might recommend the placement of a dental crown for a variety of reasons, but generally the decision is in response to one of the three basic categories: To restore a tooth to its original appearance; to strengthen a tooth; and to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth.

On average, dental crowns last between five and fifteen years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of wear and tear the crown is subjected to, how well you follow good oral hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits. One should avoid such habits as grinding or clenching the teeth, chewing ice, biting fingernails and using teeth to open packaging.

All About Braces

There are over five million people in the USA and Canada that wear braces. Over 20% of them are over the age of eighteen. People value the benefits of an attractive smile; a person's self-esteem will increase, which helps them in their careers and social life. Simply put, people feel better about themselves if they feel that they look good. Improvements have been made in the technological aspects of Orthodontics as well as aesthetic advancements. There are different types available:

Traditional Metal Braces

dentist with patientMetal braces are very strong and durable. They tend to be the most cost-effective of the various styles available. It is common for them to irritate the patient at first, but after a few weeks most people get used to them and they are no longer a problem. Metal braces are more visible than other styles, which may concern some people.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are very strong and stain-free due to their makeup of composite material. Ceramic braces tend to blend in with the teeth better and are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Many people feel that these braces are more comfortable than metal braces and irritate your gums less. Cost is higher with this type of brace and treatment can take a few months longer.

Invisible Braces

Invisible braces are great for people who do not have severe problems. If your bite is off and your teeth are severely crooked there are better choices for you that will yield superior results. Invisible braces are made up of a strong plastic trays that are custom-fabricated for your teeth.

Treatment generally costs about the same as traditional metal braces and treatment duration is approximately the same. Irritation is minimal and invisible braces are stain free. A real selling point to many consumers is that these braces are virtually invisible, as the name implies.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are placed behind your teeth and are usually made of metal. This style of brace is invisible to people who are looking at you head-on. They can only see the metal brackets when they look inside your mouth. Lingual braces are not for patients who have severe dental problems.

The primary benefit of lingual braces is the aesthetic value. They tend to be priced higher than traditional braces and treatment can last a few months longer. Only certain Orthodontists can perform this treatment and special training is required. They take a little bit of time to get used to because initially they can make your tongue hurt and can cause speech difficulties.

Sleep Dentistry

Sleep Dentistry is designed for patients who dread going to the dentist. Many people feel afraid or uncomfortable when they are placed in vulnerable positions—like the dental chair—and may experience dental anxiety as a result. Sleep Dentistry is an option for patients who fear dental procedures, fear needles, have difficulty with their gag reflex, have very sensitive teeth, or have difficulty becoming numb from oral injections. Even though you are not technically asleep, many people recall the experience as seeming to be asleep.

Inhalation Sedation, or Nitrous Oxide-Oxygen, is the most common sedation technique and is also known as "laughing gas". Inhalation Sedation is a preferable option as patients recover quickly and may leave the dental office alone, and immediately resume their daily activities. Intravenous Conscious Sedation is a safe sedation technique; and though it is not as readily available as other forms of sedation, it is more effective than administering the same drugs orally.

Anxious or dental-phobic people find that Sleep Dentistry offers a perfect solution for maintaining good dental health while being in a totally relaxed state. Sleep Dentistry ensures that patients experience no pain or anxiety during their dental procedures, and prevents emergencies that could occur as a result of such anxiety, such as fainting.

What is TMJ?

patient and toothTMJ is an abbreviation for Temporo-Mandibuilar Joint. TMJ is the joint formed by the temporal bone of the skull (temporo) and the lower jaw, or mandible. These joints move each time we swallow, chew and talk. It is said that TMJ is the most complex joint in the human body. TMJ is a sliding joint and not a ball-in-socket, such as the shoulder.

There are TMJ disorders that have a wide spectrum of symptoms. Indications include headaches, earaches, ringing in the ear, pain in the neck area, headaches, dizziness, clicking and grinding sounds when opening and closing the mouth, and limited ability to open and close the mouth.

Causes of TMJ maladies include arthritis, injury and the grinding of your teeth at night. Other common causes include the displacement of the disc that is located between the jawbone and the socket. When this occurs, a popping or clicking sound can be heard. This can cause pain as well as limit the use of your jaw.

There are various treatments for TMJ disorders and it is recommended that you consult your dentist or an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Treatments include medications for pain, muscle relaxation, bite plates and splint therapy. In more severe cases surgery is also an option.

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