Lets talk about Procedures
A visit to our general dentist's office is about more than just checking for cavities and cleaning teeth. Current dental research supports a link between oral health and overall wellness. Tooth decay can lead to tooth loss, which can compromise your diet and your health. Left untreated, gum disease can increase your risk for diabetes complications, osteoporosis, heart disease, and stroke.
Our general dentist promotes a healthy lifestyle by protecting your beautiful smile. Your appointment with Dr. Thornton will involve a thorough evaluation, including an oral cancer screening, periodontal analysis, bite assessment, and a tooth-by-tooth exam. We will determine your current situation and then develop a personalized plan to preserve your smile.
If you're self-conscious about cracked, broken, decayed, or worn teeth, we can bring back your healthy, natural-looking smile with dental crowns, also called caps. A crown can return structure, strength, and function to a tooth with extensive decay or damage. Designed to fit snugly and function as a healthy tooth, a crown will protect your tooth from further damage and preserve the jaw's correct natural alignment.
We use precious metal, porcelain pressed (or fused) to metal or zirconium and all-porcelain crowns. To maintain a fully white smile, we recommend all-ceramic crowns. Our precise color-matching system allows us to find the right shade of porcelain to blend with your natural tooth color. Porcelain crowns are also extremely durable and long-lasting, and these benefits make them popular with dentists as well as patients.
Typically, we can design, fit, and place your crowns in just a couple of appointments. Once a crown is placed, you can care for it as you do your natural teeth.
Conscientious brushing twice a day and daily flossing will protect the base of your crown from bacterial growth. Be sure to see us at least two times each year for professional cleanings and a preventive exam, too.
An endodontic procedure, or a Root Canal, is performed when the pulp of the tooth becomes irreversibly damaged, usually from decay or some other form of trauma. During this procedure, the pulp is removed and an artificial filling material is placed. In the majority of cases, the procedure is done with minimum discomfort. After the completion of the root canal, many times a crown and post are necessary to help protect the tooth.
Many people have deep pits and grooves in their teeth where bacteria and food particles can hide and cause decay. Children with poor brushing habits may also develop decay on hard-to-reach molars. For situations like these, dental sealants offer a means of protecting molar and premolar chewing surfaces from decay. Recognized by the American Dental Association as a key means of cavity prevention, dental sealants are simply a thin plastic film that can be applied to teeth.
First, we identify and fill any spots of decay, then prepare your teeth with a cleaning and etching solution. After about 15 seconds, we thoroughly rinse the solution, dry the surface, coat your teeth with the sealant, and harden it with a curing light. The entire procedure is fast, easy, and comfortable. It takes about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of teeth to seal.
Dental sealants create an impenetrable physical barrier for small food particles and cavity-causing bacteria, making them highly effective in preventing tooth surface decay and the resulting cavities. Sealants can last up to ten years. Most insurance companies only cover sealant procedures at a minimal level, but the good news is that insurance companies seem to be recognizing this technique's value as a preventive measure that will help reduce future dental costs and more aggressive treatments. Ask us about dental sealants for you and your kids today!
To dramatically transform a smile, we often suggest porcelain veneers. Handcrafted from fine porcelain, veneers can cover flaws and completely alter the size, color, and shape of your front teeth. Dr. Thornton will listen to your ideas about improving your smile, assess your facial features, and select veneers that will give you an incredible smile.
In just two appointments, we can give you a sensational, new look. After agreeing upon a design that's right for you, Dr. Thornton will prepare your teeth by removing a thin layer of enamel. Then, he will take measurements for the ceramist who will handcraft your custom porcelain veneers. Dr. Thornton will also place temporary veneers, which gives patients a trial run of their new smiles. Once we receive the veneers from the dental lab, Dr. Thornton will make final adjustments and then permanently bond the porcelain veneers to your front teeth.
If you have a chipped, slightly misaligned, or otherwise imperfect tooth that needs cosmetic restoration, we may suggest one-appointment bonding. Dr. Thornton can place composite resin, shaded to blend with your tooth's color, to rebuild a pleasing shape to your tooth. After hardening the resin with a curing light, he will artistically sculpt and polish the restoration. In just one visit, you can enjoy a beautiful new smile! Cosmetic bonding can be a viable, affordable alternative to porcelain veneers, but it lasts only 5 to 10 years with proper care.
Many people associate brilliant, white smiles with movie stars, models, or brides, but professional teeth whitening has become one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures available. Teeth whitening can remove discolorations and erase years of stains to generate a bold, dazzling smile that will raise your confidence levels and enhance your image.
We offer take-home teeth whitening kits so that our patients can brighten their smiles at their convenience. Dr. Thornton will take molds and fit you for custom bleaching trays, which will prevent your lips and gums from irritation. You simply fill the trays with teeth whitening gel and wear them daily as directed.
Many patients see results immediately, but the full impact will appear when treatment ends, usually in 10 to 14 days. To touch up your smile periodically, wear the trays again as needed. Mild sensitivity may occur during teeth whitening, but this will fade once you complete the process.
We offer in-office whitening, at home whitening, or a combination. In-office bleaching is a one to two visit procedure performed the day you come in the office. A bleaching solution is applied directly to your teeth for 30-60 minutes, offering quick results. We will be glad to discuss which whitening procedure is best for you.
A dental implant is a small titanium post that fits precisely into the socket left by a missing tooth. Bone tissue naturally fuses with the biocompatible titanium to create a solid foundation – a replacement tooth root. After the bone and gum tissue heals, we can place a single restoration, a bridge or dentures on the post. Single-tooth implants each hold one replacement tooth.
Often, dental implants are placed to secure bridges, partials, or dentures.
A denture or a complete denture as it is often called is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways.
- A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
- An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually pink colored that covers the palate (roof of the mouth).
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue.
The teeth are made of acrylic, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.
All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age, but if you do lose teeth they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.
Dental Bridge Options
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable.
Fixed bridges are fabricated by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it’s difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.
Why do I need a bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.
Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.
Missing teeth can cause speech disorders as they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.
How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment, Dr.Thornton will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin.
Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth or implants next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, porcelain fused to metal or zirconium, or a combination of these materials.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.
Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used for over 150 years. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative material, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Amalgam is used in dentistry for a number of reasons. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement; it remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume, and then forms a hard compound. Amalgam possesses greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve for 10 to 12 years, whereas resin-based composites serve for about half that time. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, it should be noted that this difference is decreasing.
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serves better than amalgam; when amalgam is not indicated, or when a more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite is the recommended restorative material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a sounder tooth structure, as well as in "enamel sites beyond the height of contour."
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.
If you're embarrassed about your smile because of decay or dark fillings in your teeth, you may be a good candidate for composite resins. A silicon dioxide-filled, tooth-colored plastic mixture, composite resins can restore teeth to an attractive, healthy state. Composite resins represent several advantages over traditional silver or amalgam fillings.
Because composite resins are not made of metal, we can blend and mix shades to find the perfect color to match your natural teeth. This means only you and your dentist will know you have fillings. Another pro is that the tooth/composite bond actually supports the remaining tooth structure, deterring breakage and insulating against temperature changes. Medium and small composites can last seven to ten years – that’s as long as the tried and true amalgams. Best of all, composite resins allow us to keep more of your natural tooth structure intact than amalgams. We believe in conservative dentistry – the more natural tooth structure you keep, the better teeth you’ll likely have in the future.
Some patients experience mild and temporary post-placement sensitivity from composite resin fillings. The only caution we usually mention is that coffee, tea, and other staining foods and beverages may discolor your composites unless you ask to have them coated with a clear plastic sealant.
You and Dr. Thornton may determine that you need a tooth extraction for any number of reasons. Some teeth are extracted because they are severely decayed; others may have advanced periodontal disease, or have broken in a way that cannot be repaired. Other teeth may need removal because they are poorly positioned in the mouth (such as impacted teeth), or in preparation for orthodontic treatment.
The removal of a single tooth can lead to problems related to your chewing ability, problems with your jaw joint, and shifting teeth, which can have a major impact on your dental health.
To avoid these complications, in most cases, Dr. Thornton will discuss alternatives to extractions as well as replacement of the extracted tooth.
The Extraction Process
At the time of extraction, the doctor will need to numb your tooth, jawbone, and gums that surround the area with a local anesthetic.
During the extraction process, you will feel a lot of pressure. This is from the process of firmly rocking the tooth in order to widen the socket for removal.
You feel the pressure without pain as the anesthetic has numbed the nerves stopping the transference of pain, yet the nerves that transmit pressure are not profoundly affected. If you do feel pain at any time during the extraction please let us know right away.
Sectioning a tooth
Some teeth require sectioning. This is a very common procedure done when a tooth is so firmly anchored in its socket or the root is curved and the socket can’t expand enough to remove it. The doctor simply divides the tooth into sections then removes one section at a time.
After Extraction Home Care
Some bleeding may occur. Placing a piece of moist gauze over the empty tooth socket and biting down firmly for 45 minutes can control this.
Blood clots that form in the empty socket.
This is an important part of the healing process and you must be careful not to dislodge the clot.
Avoid rinsing or spitting for 24 hours after the extraction.
Avoid use of a straw, smoking and hot liquids.
If swelling occurs you can place ice on your face for 10 minutes and off for 20 minutes. Repeat this cycle as you feel necessary for up to 24 hours.
Pain and Medications
If you experience pain you may use non-prescription pain relief medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For most extractions just make sure you do your chewing away from the extraction site. Stay away from hot liquids and alcoholic beverages for 24 hours. A liquid diet may be recommended for 24 hours.
Brushing and Cleaning
After the extraction avoid brushing the teeth near the extraction site for one day. After that you can resume gentle cleaning. Avoid commercial mouth rinses, as they tend to irritate the site. Beginning 24 hours after the extraction you can rinse with salt water (1/2 teaspoon in a cup of water) after meals and before bed.
Dry socket occurs when a blood clot fails to form in the socket where the tooth has been extracted or the clot has been dislodged, and the healing is significantly delayed.
Following the post extraction instructions will reduce the chances of developing dry socket. Dry sockets manifest themselves as a dull throbbing pain, which doesn’t appear until three or four days after the extraction. The pain can be moderate to severe and radiate from the extraction area. Dry socket may cause a bad taste or bad breath and the extraction site appears dry.
Dr. Thornton will apply a medicated dressing to the dry socket to soothe the pain.
After a tooth has been extracted there will be a resulting space in your jawbone where the tooth was. In time, this will smooth and fill in with bone. This process can take many weeks or months. However, after 1-2 weeks you should no longer notice any inconvenience.
Problems Post surgery
If you have any problems ppost-surgery contact the office, or if after hours, call Dr. Thornton at 770-534-4565.
Infection controls and universal precautions protect clients and staff alike. Everyone benefits from rigorous infection control — you, your dentist, and the dental team. The cornerstone in a good and safe dental practice is the element of trust. You should feel free to discuss this topic with Dr. Thornton and receive a straightforward answer.
Dr. Thornton and our entire team follow procedures recommended by several federal agencies: the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These measures include:
- Disinfectant hand soap
- Gloves and face masks
- Chemical disinfection of countertops and surfaces
- Sterilization of all equipment before every use
- Disposable materials
We sterilize all reusable equipment, including dental hand pieces. We use an autoclave, a device that kills bacteria and viruses by steam, heat, and pressure.
The best defense against disease is information. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make wise decisions about your health care. The more you know about our daily procedures and policies, the more comfortable you will feel.