Dental Education

Welcome to the Dentist Directory Patient Information Center. The information presented is intended to educate the general public on common dental topics. Many dental terms are commonly seen and heard in the print and broadcast media; as well as in our daily conversations. However, many people do not completely understand these dental terms unless they have had first hand experience with them at their dentist’s office.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for a professional dental exam and consultation (no matter how much you hate going to the dentist). Each case will vary depending on the needs and concerns of each individual. We hope that this information will provide you with some basic dental knowledge so that you and your dentist can devise a plan to keep your smile healthy and looking great.


Prevention and early detection are key in avoiding costly and painful dental treatment. Prevention begins with the control of plaque and calculus, the main cause of decay and gum disease.

Research has shown that controlling plaque is important in the control of decay and gum disease. Plaque is neither food nor food residue. Plaque is a clear, sticky deposit of bacteria that adheres to the surface of teeth and gums. It can only be removed by mechanical cleansing.

Calculus – Plaque which is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing can harden into calculus which is also called tartar. Calculus is plaque that has mineralized, forming a tough, crusty deposit that can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist. Calculus deposits are a significant contributing factor in periodontal disease.

Restoring Damaged Teeth

Unfortunately, teeth damaged by decay or injury will not heal like most other tissues in the body. They require an artificial material to replace and restore the damaged tooth structure.

Crowns and Bridges – The reasons for making a suggestion for crowns can vary from case to case.

1. A previously filled tooth where there now exists more filling than tooth
2. Damage by decay
3. Discolorations and compromised esthetics 4. Fracturesr
5. Root canal – after a root canal teeth tend to become brittle and are more apt to fracture. They may need to be protected by a crown
6. Bridges – When teeth are replaced with a bridge, the adjacent teeth require crowns in order to support the replacement teeth

Crowns strengthen and protect the remaining tooth structure and can improve the appearance of your teeth. Fitting a crown requires at least two appointments. During your first visit, the tooth is prepared for the crown, an impression or mold is made of the tooth, and a temporary crown is placed over the prepared tooth. At the next visit the temporary crown is removed and the final crown is fitted and adjusted and cemented into place.

Bridges: The loss of a single tooth can have a major impact on your dental health and personal appearance. Your teeth support and rely on each other. When one or more teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can shift out of their normal position. Teeth adjacent to the space or from the opposite jaw will often drift or tilt. These teeth are often more susceptible to decay and gum disease. If tooth loss occurs, you dentist may recommend that a bridge be placed. A bridge consists of a replacement tooth/teeth attached to crowns on each side. The bridge is cemented to the teeth adjacent to the space, effectively replacing the missing tooth and preventing any shifting.

Root Canal Therapy

If a tooth’s pulp (nerve and blood supply) become infected or inflamed, root canal therapy is often the only way to save the tooth.

Root Canal Therapy

Some indications of the need for a root canal therapy may be::

1. Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting
2. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
3. Severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess in the bone

Root Canal Therapy consists of:
The removal of the infected or irritated nerve tissue that lies within the root of the tooth. It is this infected pulp tissue that causes an eventual abscess..

1. The first step in a root canal is to obtain access to the nerve. This is accomplished by establishing a small access opening in the top of the tooth. It will be done under a local anesthetic.

2. The length of the root canals is determined and the infected pulp is removed.

3. At the same time, the canal where the nerve is located will be reshaped and prepared to accept s pecial root canal filling material. This filling procedure will probably not occur until your next visit.

4. The final step in your root canal will be sealing of the root canal with a sterile, plastic material. This is done in order to prevent possible future infection.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Through advances in modern dental materials and techniques; the shape, color, and alignment of your teeth can be improved to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

Silver fillings, otherwise known as Amalgams, are an alloy of several metals (Silver, Zinc, and Tin) and Mercury. Once mixed, they make up dental amalgam. This restoration has been used successively for several years. And has stood the test of time.

White fillings – The simplest form of white fillings is technically called a composite. It is made up of a composite quartz resin and usually contains some sort of light sensitive agent. These light cured composites are extremely cosmetic and most often bonded into place in one appointment. For this reason, they are often referred to as “bonding”. They can be used in both the front of the mouth as well as in your back teeth. These materials come in a variety of shades so that they will match the color of your own teeth.


Many people believe that once they have dentures, they no longer need regular dental care because they don’t have any teeth. Denture wearers require regular check ups and maintenance to ensure their health, comfort and appearance.

Gum tissues are in constant state of change, but dentures are not. Therefore, periodic relining of your dentures may be necessary. If you find you denture getting looser and mastication more difficult, this may be a sign that a reline may be needed. It is very important for your dentist to see you regularly to evaluate the state of your oral tissues and determine if additional treatment is required. Dentures typically need to be relined or remade every 3-5 years.


For people who have lost teeth, implants provide artificial teeth that look more natural and feel more secure. Implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth or support a bridge, full dentures or partial dentures.

Dental Implants
What are dental implants? Dental implants are basically sophisticated screws made of a medically pure metal, Titanium. These screws are then placed in the jaw bone and rest under the gum 3-6 months. During this time they actually fuse to the jawbone and become osses(bone) integrated. After the appropriate healing time, we uncover the implants and use them to replace one or more missing teeth by fabricating some sort of dental prosthesis.

How complicated is the surgery? Implant surgery is done in two stages. The first stage involves the placement of the implants into the available jaw bone. This is most commonly done with just local anesthesia. It is complicated only in the sense that the surgery requires great precision. The room is set up similar to an operating room, the equipment thoroughly sterilized and the most modern techniques utilized.

Removal of Teeth

The goal of modern dentistry is to prevent tooth loss; however, there are situations in which extraction is the only course of treatment.

One of the main goals of modern dentistry is the prevention of tooth loss. All possible measures should be taken to preserve and maintain your teeth because the loss of a single tooth can have a major impact upon your dental health and appearance. Here are some reasons a tooth may need to be extracted.

1. Severe decay
2. Advanced periodontal disease
3. Infection or abscess
4. Orthodontic correction
5. Malpositioned teeth
6. Fractured teeth or roots
7. Impacted teeth