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While you may not be getting any older, your teeth probably are!

Dental treatment and needs begin to change as you age. Adults can be divided into two distinct categories with respect to their needs: those adults who have not had a history of many restorations (fillings) and those who have had their teeth drilled and filled repeatedly over the years.

The first group is lucky. New decay can begin at any time, but the older you get, the less likely you are to get new cavities. If those adults, who have had few fillings, brush and floss their teeth properly so that they prevent periodontal disease, they probably will have few new dental problems develop. The old restorations they have had placed, will usually be replaced at infrequent intervals (especially if the fillings are only small fillings) and will not need crowns (caps), bridges or endodontic treatment (root canal therapy).

What are composite resin fillings?

Most of us have had amalgam fillings (silver) or gold filling restorations. These are strong restorations and are still used in dentistry today, mainly in the molar areas.

Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. Tooth fillings made from a plastic dental resin, colored to look like a natural tooth, are known as Composite Resin Dental Fillings. Composite Resin Dental Fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile. Some dental insurance plans cover their use.

Who is a candidate for composite resin fillings?

If you have a cavity in a tooth, broken fillings or amalgam fillings, this type of dental filling is well worth discussing with your dentist. Mercury fillings or amalgam fillings can easily be removed and replaced with far more attractive colored fillings.

How are composite resin fillings different from amalgam fillings?

Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. Tooth fillings colored to look like a natural tooth are known as Composite Resin Dental Fillings,are made of a plastic dental resin. Composite Resin Dental Fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile. Many dental insurance plans cover their use.

How are composite resin fillings accomplished?

Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area. The dentist then prepares an access to the decayed area of the tooth and removes the decayed portions. This is accomplished with traditional drills, micro air abrasion or even with a dental laser. With a composite filling, your dentist will preserve more of the natural tooth as the composite resin can be bonded to the tooth in thin layers. If your tooth’s decayed area is close to a nerve, a special liner will be used to protect the nerve.

A special dental material is then used to open up the pores of your tooth’s dentin and roughens up the surface of the exposed enamel. This achieves better and stronger bond.

Composite resin fillings are applied in thin layers, and slowly built up to form the complete filling. A bright dental light will harden each layer before the next is applied.

Once your filling is completed, your dentist will use a special paper—articulating paper—to adjust the height of your dental filling, in order to ensure that your bite remains correct. Your tooth is then polished.

If you are suffering from any discomfort or feel as though you may need a filling, make an appointment with Dr. Sulken, and his office will determine the best course of action.

What is tooth bonding?

Bonding is a composite resin filling placed in the front teeth as well as the back teeth. Composites are the solution for restoring decayed teeth, making cosmetic improvements and even changing the color of your teeth or the reshaping of teeth. Bonding will lighten any stains you may have, close up minor gaps and can be used to correct crooked teeth. Basically, bonding will cover any natural flaws by applying a thin coating of a plastic material on the front surface of your teeth. After this, Timothy Sulken will apply a bonding material and sculpt, color and shape it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light then hardens the plastic, and the surface is finely polished.

What are dental crowns?

As we age, many of us find ourselves with teeth that are no longer structurally sound. Root canals, lost fillings, decay below a filling, chipping and cracking of the enamel are all things that can lead to large scale defects in a tooth’s surface. When the entire surface of the tooth is a problem, but the root system is intact, a crown might be just what the dentist orders.

Grinding your teeth, an improper bite, age, fillings and tooth decay can all be contributing factors in the wearing down, cracking or breakage of your teeth. Dental crowns cover the entire visible surface of your affected tooth and add strength, durability and tooth stability.

Who is a candidate for crowns?

Dr. Sulken will be able to spot problem areas in your mouth that might lead to tooth damage and a need for crowns. Chewing patterns play a big role as well. By selectively grinding the tips of your middle and back teeth (called cusps) will alter your bite to reduce the stress on at-risk teeth.

Crowns can also serve cosmetic purposes.

How are Tooth Crowns Attached to your Tooth?

Dr. Sulken will make an impression of the tooth and a dental laboratory will create the crown. You will typically leave the office with a temporary crown to wear while the permanent crown is being made – this takes about two weeks. The permanent crown is then cemented onto your tooth. Typically, only two visits are required for this part of the procedure. Often, a preliminary restoration of your tooth may be needed before a crown can be placed. To stabilize your tooth, a filling must first be put in place prior to placing a crown due to the loss of original tooth structure. Tooth crowns usually last ten to fifteen years.

Be sure to discuss with your cosmetic dentist that the cement color used for your permanent crown will be the same as used for your temporary crown. A try in paste is used for this purpose. The color of the cement does affect the overall color of a porcelain crown, so this needs to be discussed long before your temporary crown is placed.

In some cases your cosmetic dentist may choose to use a flipper instead of a temporary crown. A flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed. A flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent crown.

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a false tooth, known as a pontic, which is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. The two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures.

Bridges help correct some bite issues and even improve your speech. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene.

Overview of dental bridge procedure

If you have a space from a missing tooth, a bridge will be custom made to fill in the space with a false tooth. The false tooth is attached by the bridge to the two other teeth around the space – bridging them together.

How is dental bridge accomplished?

Dr. Sulken will prepare your teeth on either side of the space for the false tooth. You will be given a mild anesthetic to numb the area, and the dentist will remove an area of each abutment (teeth on either side of the space) to accommodate for the thickness of the crown.

Dr. Sulken will then take an impression, which will serve as the model from which the bridge will be made by a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be placed for you to wear while your bridge is being made until your next visit. This temporary bridge will serve to protect your teeth and gums.

On your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed. Your new permanent bridge will be fitted and checked and adjusted for any bite discrepancies. Your new bridge will then be cemented to your teeth.

What are root canals?

There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the (nerve) pulp inside your tooth also becoming infected as well. The canals are cleaned and then filled and the tooth receives a crown.

How are dental root canals performed?

Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to two visits not including any follow-up visits. Your dentist or Endodontist will numb the affected tooth, or may offer you the option of mild sedation. A rubber dental dam is placed and the tooth is then opened through the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured with files to clean the entire canal, so that the filling material will completely fill the canal.

All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.