There are a lot of common dental procedures that almost all of us need at some point in our lives. It’s important to get this basic dental work done before the problems get worse, resulting in the need for more complex dental procedures that send shivers up most people’s spines.
In this post, we’ll be covering some of the most common dental procedures and what you can expect from them.
Routine Dental Exams & Cleanings
The vast majority of us don’t see the dentist as regularly as we should. Even if you aren’t experiencing any dental problems first-hand, your dentist can find problems in the beginning stages of development. These can be stopped in their tracks with a simple dental exam and cleaning.
Seeing your dentist twice a year can significantly reduce your chances of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. Regular brushing and flossing is of course necessary, but almost none of us do this as regularly as we should, or as properly. Your dentist can also reach areas of the teeth that most people can’t with mere toothbrushes and floss.
If tooth decay has progressed to the point that you have a cavity – when plaque has eaten its way past the protective enamel outer tooth layer and into the dentin – you require a dental filling. These are simple dental procedures that can be completed in a single visit. Dental fillings will stop dental decay before it progresses into the next phase, when it begins to attack the pulp – the soft layer under the tooth that contains the tooth nerve (once this stage is reached, a root canal is required).
In the past, dentists almost always relied on amalgam fillings (sometimes called “silver fillings”). However, many modern dentists are avoiding amalgam fillings in favor of resin-based fillings for the following reasons:
- Amalgam fillings are comprised of over 50% mercury, a known toxic heavy metal. Mercury can have detrimental effects on the human body over time.
- Amalgam fillings have no adhesive quality; they have to be forced or wedged into place. This can create microfractures in the tooth, which make great places for plaque and bacteria to thrive.
- Amalgam fillings expand and contract as a result of temperature changes in the mouth, which can lead to further microfractures.
- Amalgam fillings create a “metal-mouth” look that many find undesirable.
Unlike amalgam fillings, resin-fillings look and feel like natural teeth, are adhesive, and don’t expand and contract with temperature changes.
If you have a tooth that has been damaged or decayed to the point where a filling won’t cut it, dental crowns are a great option. These are simply tooth-like caps that are secured to the tooth. Your dentist will shave off decayed and damaged tooth material (often whittling the tooth down to a stump) and then place your dental crown. The crown will be made to look and feel like your natural teeth, and to blend in with the surrounding teeth. Over time, you probably won’t even remember which tooth has the crown.