How are Lasers Used in Dentistry?

Dental assistant smiling at camera

Lasers use narrow, concentrated beams of light energy, which can be used to shape, remove or vaporize tissue. Since 1990, they have been used in a variety of dental treatments. When used in place of traditional dental drills, lasers can reduce pain, anxiety and the need for anesthesia. They can also quickly cauterize tissues, which helps reduce bleeding and swelling.

You might be a candidate for laser dentistry if you have:

1. Tooth decay
The decayed tissue can be removed using a laser, and the enamel can be prepared for the filling placement.

2. Periodontal disease
Lasers can be used to destroy the bacteria that cause gum disease and reshape the gum tissue around the teeth.

3. Oral sores
Lasers can be used to reduce the pain of canker sores and cold sores and speed healing.

4. Dental fillings
The composite resin of dental fillings or bonding can be cured using dental lasers.

5. Teeth whitening
A dental laser can activate teeth whitening ingredients and speed teeth whitening procedures.

While dental lasers are a versatile and effective tool in modern dentistry, they are not necessarily appropriate for every procedure. We can help you decide if they are right for you.

Call our office today to schedule your next appointment with our dentist in Northridge.

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When Should Dental Crowns be Used?

Woman at the dentistryCrowns provide important backup for teeth that may fail structurally or visually. Made of metal or porcelain, these “caps” (as they’re also known) are placed over teeth with cracks, discoloring, or damage caused by advanced decay. This way, full functionality is returned to the tooth along with the natural look you desire.

You and your dentist should decide together if your tooth warrants a crown. Some dentists push crowns as a certain kind of fix-all, which is not entirely accurate. There are some failings in teeth that are better served by other products, so it’s important to know the exact situations that call for crowns.

Our dental crowns dentist in Northridge always finishes root canal treatment with a crown. Any tooth that receives a root canal is clinically dead inside the mouth, once the nerve and pulp have been removed. But a crown seals the pulp substitute inside the tooth and ensures you keep your full bite force.

Likewise, a crown is the finishing touch on a dental implant procedure. The replacement factor in implantology is always the titanium root in the jaw. But the crown is the visible portion, and protects the integrity and lifespan of the procedure.

For more about uses of dental crowns, contact your Northridge dentist.

 

How are Tooth Colored Fillings Different?

Happy patient

Tooth-colored fillings, or composite fillings as they’re also known, were meant to bring a visual component to tooth restoration. Metallic fillings don’t blend with tooth enamel, and amalgam fillings raise concerns about mercury levels. While tooth-colored composites have their drawbacks, their net strength is one of pleasant naturalism.

The drawbacks of tooth-colored dental fillings are less problematic in smaller restorations, where less bite force is required. But with recent improvements in the composite, these fillings have a bright lifespan—especially in patients with a lower decay rate.

Two of the materials commonly found in composites—plastic resin and silica filler—are naturally compatible with dentin, which is the tooth layer just beneath the enamel. This bonding agency is not possible with metallic or amalgam fillings, which merely form a protective layer for the tooth.

One negative of this bonding process is the potential for the composite to shrink, whereas an amalgam filling is more or less self-sealing.

But overall, tooth-colored composites create a shield against temperature changes in the tooth. Again, aesthetics are the top draw of these fillings. Our Northridge cosmetic dentist can blend shades to create a nearly-identical color for your filling.

What is E4D Technology?

Dental assistant smiling at cameraE4D is a new system that lets our dentist scan teeth and make restorations at our office. By choosing E4D Technology instead of conventional restorations, patients enjoy more convenience and have less time to wait for results. Here is more about E4D in its scanning and milling phases.

Laser Scanning With E4D

Traditional bite impressions are time consuming and can be unpleasant for patients. E4D can create a 3-D model of the teeth with a laser scanning tool that is fast and accurate. Right after the images are made, our dentist can view them on an office computer and refine restoration designs as necessary.

On-Site Milling

The designs made from E4D laser images can be milled from raw materials while patients wait. Porcelain crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays can be made accurately using this process, resulting in incredibly lifelike and comfortable results. With E4D, patients need only one appointment to get these restorations rather than the two or more visits that conventional restorations require.

E4D optimizes the preparation and production process associated with several restorations. Like conventional porcelain restorations, E4D restorations can last for many years with proper care. Patients can schedule a consultation with our dentist in Northridge to find out if they are candidates for E4D.

Options for Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Woman annoyed by the snoring of her partner in her bedThe first line of defense against sleep apnea is usually CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure. This is obtained via a pressurizer that regulates airflow when the patient is hooked up to it with a mask. Mask technology changes rapidly, which means there are always several options to choose from. This is good, since the first mask isn’t always the best fit. Depending on what kind of breather or sleeper you are, you may have difficulty getting a CPAP mask that supplies accurate data.

Sleep apnea sufferers who don’t respond to CPAP treatment may qualify for oral appliance therapy, or OAT. This is just a mouthguard worn while sleeping to hold the jaw forward and keep the airway clear. It must be prescription and custom-fit, as just buying an over-the-counter sports mouthguard may not provide the treatment you need.

Before OAT or even CPAP treatments for sleep apnea, you can try to change up your lifestyle. Obesity is the leading contributor to sleep apnea, due to the high concentration of fat cells in the neck. Watching what you eat and getting regular exercise can take a lot of the pressure off your airway.

Ask our sleep apnea dentist in Northridge about other treatments, such as automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP).

How Often Do You Need Dental X-Rays Taken?

Examining radiography

Regularity of dental x-rays has been a trending topic over the last few years. It wasn’t too long ago that dentists recommended all patients receive annual bitewing x-rays. This was largely due to something that might be called the “whole mouth” theory, by which bitewing x-rays expand views of the mouth and allow dentists to better view and speculate on every spot and fissure.

 

However, concerns about radiation exposure have led many experts to start advising against annual x-rays—despite the incredibly low dosage found in bitewing x-rays. Some dentists advise their patients that since the cost of the annual x-ray is typically picked up by insurance, they have nothing to lose by getting it. The anti-radiation movement argues against this, obviously.

 

The best advice by our Northridge dentists is that new patients should submit to a bitewing x-ray. This establishes a baseline for your file, and enables the dentist to compare the results to your overall dental history.

 

For repeat patients and those with stellar dental records, annual x-rays are probably not necessary.

 

For more about dental x-rays and problems they can expose, talk to our expert in dental x-rays in Northridge.

Importance of Dental Exam and Cleaning

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Teeth do not clean themselves, and you can only clean them yourself up to a point. Brushing and flossing can keep the worst bacteria at bay, but problems are inevitable if you go too long without a professional cleaning. Only a dentist can remove the biofilm buildup, known as tartar, which collects on teeth over time.

If you allow tartar to erode the enamel on your teeth, serious periodontal problems are that much harder to avoid. Gum disease, like gingivitis and advanced periodontitis, can eventually cause the teeth to separate from the gums and even loosen and fall out. A dental exam and cleaning can diagnose any gum disease you have, and reverse it if it’s early enough.

At your exam, your dentist checks your head and neck for any sign of cancer or malformation. Cysts in the jaw or swollen lymph nodes are often discovered by dentists in routine exams. Oral cancer screenings are included in the process.

Regular exams are essential if you want your teeth to stay clean, your gums to stay healthy, and your overall health to flourish. Contact your Northridge dentist to schedule an appointment today.

Do All Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted?

Happy patient

Many patients benefit from having their wisdom teeth removed, but not all patients require it. With that said, wisdom teeth can cause serious problems and should be removed when warning signs arise. Below is more about this issue and what problematic wisdom teeth can cause.

When Wisdom Teeth Do Not Cause Problems

Some patients have plenty of room in their mouth for wisdom teeth, so overcrowding is unlikely to occur. Even some impacted wisdom teeth cause no problems, especially when they have only just emerged. In any case, the potential for problems from specific wisdom teeth should be determined through an exam by our Northridge dentist.

What Problems Can Happen from Wisdom Teeth?

Besides overcrowding, which can cause orthodontic problems, wisdom teeth can be highly prone to decay and can cause gum disease if they are impacted. This is mainly because crannies tend to develop around these teeth, allowing food and bacteria to settle there. Pericoronitis, an infection of gum tissue overhanging wisdom teeth, can also develop.

Wisdom teeth do not necessarily need to be removed unless they cause problems or are deemed risky after an exam. By scheduling a consultation with our expert in wisdom teeth extraction in Northridge, patients can learn more about the issues that wisdom teeth can cause.