A standard dental exam for adults typically involves checking for dental problems that can range from cavities, gum disease and tooth root decay to broken teeth, enamel erosion and bite problems like TMD. If it's been longer than year since you've seen Dr. O'Leary, you'll get a complete set of X-rays, too. We will give you a professional dental cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup. And finally, Dr. O'Leary will design a dental treatment plan for you based on what he finds during your dental exam.
Dental exams/dental checkups are basically the same for kids and teenagers. Once your child is old enough, we may also show him or her how to brush and how to floss properly as part of the exam. This is a great way to reinforce that dental care and oral hygiene are an integral part of your child's life.
It's understandable that you might be tempted to skip regular dental exams/dental checkups when the economy is bad or if you're experiencing a financial crunch. But brushing and flossing aren't enough to keep your dental health in tip-top shape. And the fact is putting professional dental care on hold can result in serious dental problems later - and treatments that are much more costly. Schedule an appointment with Dr. O'Leary today! We'll take good care of you.
Digital Dental X-Ray
Dental X-rays have come a long way. Todays dental X-rays are safer, faster, more comfortable and more informative than the X-rays of years past. Digital X-rays, one of the latest and most advanced dental technologies, produce high-quality images of your teeth that can be viewed instantly by you and your dentist on a LCD monitor. Digital X-rays reduce radiation by up to 90% and provide exceptional diagnostic information to ensure that potential problems are caught in their earliest stages. Intraoral photography is another alternative to traditional dental X-rays. With intraoral photography, problems such as cavities, fractures and discolorations in the teeth are captured through clear and sharp photographic images that are taken with a 35mm or digital camera.
You are probably aware that most dentists recommend that you get a professional dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, every six months.
The term dental prophylaxis means the "removal of dental plaque, dental calculus, and stains from the exposed and unexposed surfaces of the teeth by scaling and polishing as a preventive measure for the control of local irritants."
This is what Dr. O'Leary or our dental hygienist is doing during your professional dental cleaning. You also get a full set of X-rays during this appointment to ensure that you don't have any cavities or tooth decay.
If there are dental cavities present, Dr. O'Leary will usually correct any and all dental problems he finds. The two of you will decide upon a dental treatment plan together. Depending on your choice, Dr. O'Leary can usually clean your teeth before or after any scheduled treatment.
Velscope Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is routinely performed by dentists during regular dental visits. In addition to a manual evaluation, some dentists also use a screening device called a VELscope®. This painless, non-invasive tool can be used to see potentially harmful abnormalities in the tissue of your mouth that your dentist can't spot. The result? Detecting oral cancers that otherwise might not be found.
In addition to the manual oral cancer exam, we also use VELscope. VELscope is an FDA-approved early oral cancer screening detection device. It is not a replacement for the traditional oral exam, but a tool used in combination. VELscope allows Dr. O'Leary to see abnormalities in the tissues in your mouth that aren't visible to the human eye, those below the surface that your dentist can't see yet.
The VELscope screening takes one or two minutes and does not require any special rinses or stains. Dr. O'Leary will give you protective glasses to wear while the VELscope is being used.
Dentists use dental fillings -- the material that "fills" the spaces in your teeth left by tooth decay -- to restore teeth. A dental filling is also used to repair cracks and broken areas in your teeth, and to repair areas that have been worn down.
As far as dental procedures go, a cavity filling procedure is relatively simple. Dental fillings generally take just one or two dental visits to complete, and involve removing decay, cleaning the tooth and then filling it with a restorative material such as amalgam, composite resin or porcelain.
Dr. O'Leary can help you choose which type of tooth filling is best for you based on the size of the space to be filled, aesthetics, durability of dental filling materials and dental filling costs.
Tooth Colored Fillings
If your silver fillings make you feel self conscious when you smile, or it's simply time to replace them, consider tooth colored fillings. tooth colored fillings are just as durable as they are attractive! Made of composite resin, tooth colored fillings match the natural color of your teeth and are an excellent option for small to mid-sized cavities. Tooth colored fillings are strong, stain-resistant and require less removal of your tooth structure than amalgam fillings.
A dental crown may not make you feel like royalty, but it is one of the premiere treatments for teeth with extensive decay or damage. Dental crowns can also used to hold a dental bridge in place, cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth, or cover a tooth after a root canal procedure. Made of either porcelain-fused-to-metal, ceramic or gold, dental crowns are placed during a multi-step process and sometimes require more than one dental visit. The first step is a dental impression. A temporary crown is then placed to protect the tooth while the impression is sent to an offsite laboratory to create the final restoration. In some cases, same-day crowns are possible, so be sure to inquire. With good oral hygiene and minimal wear and tear, your beautiful new dental crowns can last up to 15 years.
A bridge is a functional way to close the gap between one point and another. A dental bridge serves much the same purpose in your mouth: it literally "bridges" the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
That's a good thing because missing teeth can cause surrounding teeth to shift, which may change your bite or make your jaw sore. Shifting teeth create new places for dental plaque to hide, increasing your chances of needing a tooth filling or gum disease treatment.
Dental bridges serve an aesthetic purpose, allowing you to show off your beautiful smile without shame or fear that your missing tooth is what people will remember. They help your wallet, too, because dental bridges cost less than other methods of tooth replacement.
A Lesson in the Basics of Dental Bridges
Unlike removable devices such as dentures, dental bridge work is cemented onto natural teeth or dental implants on either side of a missing tooth. These anchor teeth are called abutments. The replacement tooth -- called a pontic -- is attached to a dental crown on each abutment.
There are three types of dental bridges: 1) traditional dental bridges, 2) cantilever dental bridges, and 3) Maryland bridges. Traditional bridges have either dental crowns or dental implants on either side of the missing tooth, plus a replacement tooth, which is held in place by a post-like structure called a dental abutment. Cantilever dental bridges are used in cases where there are surrounding teeth only on one side of the missing tooth. Maryland bridges are made of a specialized resin that is cemented to a metal framework and cemented to the enamel of surrounding teeth.
If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge procedure might be the right dental treatment for you. Talk to Dr. O'Leary to find out.
Using dentures to replace missing teeth is not only great for your oral health; it's a great way to look and feel younger! Today, there are a variety of natural-looking and comfortable dentures for patients who need to replace missing teeth. Made of a gum-colored plastic resin or acrylic base and either resin or porcelain replacement teeth, dentures are custom designed to fit your mouth. If you have several teeth or all teeth missing on the upper or lower jaw, full dentures may be your best option. Partial dentures, which can be either fixed or removable, are great for patients who have several missing teeth scattered along the upper or lower jaw.
The process of getting dentures may take a few months and several dental visits. In some cases, however, same-day dentures are also possible. With same-day dentures, the dentures are created right in the dentist's office instead of at an offsite laboratory. Same-day dentures aren't for everyone, though. If your dentures require a lot of customization, same-day dentures may not be right for you.
Just as with your natural teeth, dentures require daily maintenance. With regular wear and tear, your dentures can last 5-7 years. During that time, you may need periodic denture relines to accommodate changes in the contours of your mouth. Regular denture relines involve resurfacing the base to ensure that your dentures fit and function perfectly. If you break your dentures, it's critical to bring them to your dentist for professional denture repair. Home denture repair kits can cause more damage and be even more costly to fix.
Gum Disease Treatment
Red, swollen gums are a red flag for one thing: gum disease. If you have the symptoms, you're not alone. More than 80% of adults have some form of gum disease. Fortunately, there are many effective and pain-free gum disease treatments. For gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, treatment typically involves a thorough dental cleaning, followed by daily brushing and flossing. Advanced gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, requires scaling and root planing to remove stubborn deposits below the gum line. Laser gum surgery, a new alternative to scaling and root planing, uses beams of high-speed light to remove plaque and tartar buildup. If non-surgical methods of gum disease treatment are ineffective, a gingivectomy, or periodontal surgery, may be necessary.
Root canals get a bad wrap. But don't believe the rumors; the dreaded root canal isn't dreadful at all! Root canals are needed when either decay or an injury infects the inner tooth (the pulp). In the earliest stages of infection, you may not feel any pain at all. But when it progresses, you could have a toothache and swelling, or a dental abscess might form. Root canals remove the infection and prevent it from spreading. Thanks to laser root canals, this process is faster, more comfortable and, in many cases, more thorough than conventional root canals. Pulp capping is an alternative to root canals that are used when the infection has yet to penetrate the pulp. Pulp capping can also prevent a large dental filling from getting too close to the nerve.
If you've been living with persistent jaw pain, ear pain and headaches, you could have TMJ – temporomandibular jaw disorder. TMJ can often be traced back to an improper bite, misaligned jaw joints, or an injury to the jaw or face. TMJ treatment from a dentist can relieve the discomfort. Although TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, it typically involves one or several procedures, including the use of an orthotic splint, enamel reshaping, dental crowns, dental braces or night guards. The goal of TMJ treatment is to stabilize your bite so that your teeth, jaw muscles and jaw joints work properly together without strain – and without pain!
Pediatric Dentistry (a lot)
Catering to the dental needs of kids requires a special touch. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat the oral health needs of children, from infancy through their teenage years. This involves in-depth knowledge about children's behavior, as well as their growth and development. Pediatric dental offices are also designed to make kids feel comfortable and relaxed – with plenty of toys, activities and a warm, inviting and fun décor.
Properly preparing children for a dental visit will help guarantee a successful visit. When talking to your child about his or her first dental visit, be careful how you phrase your discussion. Avoid using negative words that might create unnecessary dental anxiety, such as hurt, needles or drill. Instead, speak in general terms and remain positive -- after all, visiting the dentist keeps you feeling great, so why wouldn't you want to go? It's also important to lead by example -- when children see you visiting the dentist every six months, they'll be more likely to follow your lead.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
Sleep Apnea is a disorder where one may experience pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last as little as ten seconds or many minutes. If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, our practice would be delighted to discuss treatment options.