Dr. David F. Sutton, DMD, PA


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PROCEDURES

Here you will find information on various dental problems and the procedures used to correct them. To get to the procedure or problem of interest, just click on the item to go to it immediately.

[Gingivitis] [Periodontal Disease] [Restorations]
[Root Canal] [Crowns] [Tooth Loss] [Partials & Dentures]
[Pediatric Dentistry] [Cosmetic Dentistry] [Inlay/Onlays]

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is more commonly known as gum disease. This is the first stage of periodontal disease. This begins as an irritation of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is caused by a build up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky and colorless film of bacteria that builds up around the teeth on a daily basis. When plaque is not removed on a daily basis, the bacteria in the plaque irritate the gums. This can lead to loss of teeth and destruction of the underlying bone. What is so insidious about this is that there is little or no pain.

For adults who have not had regular dental visits, it is not unusual to detect gum disease. If you have gum disease, we will prescribe a treatment plan to address your particular needs. Please understand that if you have gum disease, a simple cleaning does not address your needs or remedy your problem. You may possibly need to be seen by a specialist. We will be looking out for your long-term dental health and working to prevent future tooth loss and pain.

To prevent this situation from occurring, it is recommended that you brush twice a day, floss once a day and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash twice a day. It is also recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year to clean out the plaque that daily maintenance might miss.

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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the more advanced stage of gum disease. In this stage of the disease, the plaque has built up to the point where it has moved below the gum line. This causes the gums to recede, allowing spaces to form between the teeth and the gums and teeth. If this condition is left untreated, the teeth can loosen and possibly fall out. It is also possible for the underlying bone to be destroyed.

As mentioned in the gingivitis section above, proper dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are highly recommend. The treatments for periodontal disease can be most unpleasant.

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Restorations

At the early stages of tooth decay, a filling is usually adequate to restore the decayed tooth structure. We use composite type restorative materials as fillings. We no longer offer amalgam fillings. Although we do not believe amalgam fillings are poisonous due to mercury content, we do believe that amalgam is not the best material dentistry has to offer.

Amalgam fillings do not fit in with the new technologies being developed in dentistry. The new thinking in dentistry is to have materials bond to teeth. Amalgams do not bond to teeth. Amalgams are retained in teeth by removing good tooth structure to create undercuts and tentative outlines. This tends to weaken teeth and leads to fractured cusps. Furthermore, they stain teeth and do not promote health due to micro-leakage.

In contrast, composite fillings are bonded to teeth. This means less good tooth structure has to be removed and usually less post-restorative sensitivity. Both of these factors should promote longer tooth life. Besides, tooth colored composite filings look more natural.

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Root Canal

Root canal therapy deals with the dental pulp portion of the tooth. This is the soft core of the tooth just below the dentin (the hard portion of the tooth) which comprises most of the tooth structure.

The pulp can become damaged due to either a fracture or a deep cavity. The pulp can then become infected, leading to an abscess at the tip of the tooth root. If it gets bad enough, it can really be painful. If the diseased pulp is left untreated, it will die and the bone around the tooth will be destroyed. If this happens, the tooth will have to be removed.

Root canal therapy saves the tooth by cleaning out and filling the damaged pulp. The procedure is done as follows. In order to reach the pulp, an opening in the crown of the tooth is made. The pulp is then removed and the chamber and root canals are cleaned and sterilized. In the next step, a filler is placed in the clean canal and sealed to prevent bacterial infection. Once this stage is completed, a crown is fashioned to restore the natural structure, shape and appearance of the tooth.

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Crowns

Crowns are needed on teeth which have had large areas destroyed by decay or fractures. Crowns also provide strength to teeth which have been weakened by large fillings or root canals.

Crowns are used to restore the natural shape, function and appearance of a tooth. They can be made out of metal (precious or non-precious), porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. At least two visits are required to fashion and fit a crown properly.

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Tooth Loss

Teeth can be lost for any number of reasons ranging from accident, necessary extraction, periodontal disease or tooth decay. Replacing them can be critical to maintaining good dental health. This is because with the tooth missing, your bite can become unbalanced, decay can set in, teeth can drift and disease can set in. It is best if possible, to do everything possible to save a natural tooth to prevent these problems from setting in.

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Partials & Dentures

There are four methods used to replace missing teeth. These methods include bridges, partials, full dentures and implants.

A bridge is anchored to each tooth adjacent to the missing space and fashioned so that the two natural teeth support an artificial tooth. If several teeth in a row are missing, a partial plate may be required. This is a plate that conforms to the gums and has the artificial replacement teeth set in it. A full denture replaces all of the teeth on either the upper or lower jaw. We can provide you with all of these services.

Implants are titanium inserts that are implanted into the jaw bone. The bone grows back and locks the implants in place. The other end of the implant is designed to accept an artificial tooth. Once set in place, the implanted tooth will be as close to a real tooth as is possible. If you wish to choose this procedure, we will refer you to an oral surgeon that specializes in placing implants. Once the implant has integrated into the bone, you will return to our office for the placement of the crown over the implant.

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Pediatric Dentistry

The time to start a child on track to good dental hygiene is when their first teeth start to come in. Initially, you should clean their teeth with a piece of gauze or a damp cloth after each feeding. When all of the teeth have come in, you can start brushing the teeth with a soft children's tooth brush. Also, when babies sleep with a bottle, make sure it is filled with only cool water. Using formula, milk or fruit juice can lead to "baby bottle tooth decay."

Most children as young as two or three can be taught to brush their teeth. You should also follow up with them until they are able to understand good brushing techniques. Of course, good habits that are developed early will help them maintain good dental habits throughout their lifetimes.

Many parents wonder what the best age is for a child to start going to the dentist. The sooner the better. It is recommended that dental visits start at the age of three years. Starting this young can prevent small problems from becoming big ones. Also, seeing the dentist for routine visits will help reduce the fear a child may have of going to the dentist. If you wait until a serious problem develops requiring a more extensive procedure, it could lead to fear of going to the dentist at any time.

Because the most serious dental problem is tooth decay, it is our goal to help prevent premature tooth loss and encourage good oral hygiene early. We desire to have positive dental experiences for children and will refer to a periodontist if this is not occurring.

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Cosmetic Dentistry

  • Porcelain crowns can replace older crowns or fillings. Porcelain reacts to light, just like the natural finish of your teeth, thus creating a translucent and natural appearance.
  • Veneers - We customize and adhere a thin layer of porcelain to your tooth. This thin, shell like facing is often less expensive (and just as attractive as replacing a crown).
  • Bonding changes the color and shape of your teeth and is ideal for chipped areas or stains. An advantage of bonding is that it is reversible; if you do not like the effect, a bonded area can be removed.
  • Whitening - We are happy to do this procedure if there are no other dental needs. We use the BriteSMILE® bleaching system. It should be noted, that this procedure can take up to six weeks and results will be dependent on the type of stains being removed. We can give you a estimate of cost and time after an initial evaluation.

Inlay/Onlays

A more conservative treatment than a crown is an inlay/onlay. When a person has fractured a cusp or has a large filling that is failing, an onlay may be a better option than a crown or a larger filling. Large fillings on molars often times will not hold up. Therefore a crown is recommended. However, if a fair amount of good tooth structure still remains, the more conservative option is an onlay. An onlay is a restoration fabricated by a dental lab. It is stronger than a composite filling and is bonded to the tooth. It is designed to replace the tooth structure which has already been lost without removing the good tooth structure that still remains. This is in contrast to a crown which requires all of the good tooth structure to be removed so that there is adequate room for the crown material to fit over the tooth. [Top]

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