Dental Sealants

Tooth decay is the most prevalent dental disease among children. Dental sealants can safely reduce tooth decay and preserve a smile for years to come. Sealants are simply a thin plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of back teeth as a means of helping to prevent tooth decay. The white film (plaque) that remains on the teeth over time causes tooth decay and without proper removal, it forms a cavity. Sealants are an effective way of blocking plaque from forming on hard-to-reach areas with your toothbrush. They are typically applied to permanent molars and premolars, but can be applied to baby teeth. Sealants can be clear, white, or tinted, and can’t be seen when you talk or smile because they are only applied to the back teeth.

Mouth Care and Diabetes

When you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for periodontal disease (infection of the gums and tissues supporting the teeth). Any periodontal disease you may develop can be more severe and harder to control.

Use Good Oral Hygiene

Brush your teeth after each meal and floss daily. Don’t forget to also brush your tongue.

See Your Dentist Regularly

Your dentist may want to see you every 3 to 4 months for exams and cleanings.

Control Your Blood Sugar

Keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level will help control your diabetes. Doing so will also help your body fight infections and may lessen the severity or your periodontal disease.

Scaling & Root Planing

When bacteria reaches deep below the gum line, this is usually an early sign of gum disease. These processes remove plaque and tartar from below your gum line. Doing this controls the growth of harmful bacteria. It also helps gums reattach firmly to the teeth. Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth may be numbed to reduce sensitivity.

Oral surgery is a broad field that addresses the different problems that can occur within the mouth. Most are related to the teeth, though some problems may involve the jaw or the gums.

Here is a list of common problems that are treated by oral surgery:

Tooth Loss

When a patient loses a tooth from disease or injury, a dental implant can be placed into the mouth. This is an alternative to removable dentures, and can be more natural looking. A dental implant must be anchored into the jawbone for stability, so ideal patients must be healthy, hygienic, and have good bone density.

Impacted Teeth

Most cases of impacted teeth are related to the wisdom teeth. These are the last molars to emerge in a fully developed mouth. Impacted teeth are the result of insufficient room in the jaw for these large molars. As they grow, the wisdom teeth can become trapped in the gum tissue. This condition often results in swelling, pain, and some bleeding. Impacted teeth can also change the alignment of your other teeth by adding pressure. Most dentists wouldn’t recommend that you keep impacted teeth because of the health problems they raise, so surgical removal is the most common treatment.

Jaw Alignment

As you grow, the upper and lower jaw can fail to align properly. This creates a slew of problems with speaking, chewing, swallowing, and breathing. While some of these alignments can be fixed with braces, the more serious cases require surgery to change the position of the jaws.

Temporomandibular Joint

Otherwise known as the TMJ, this joint in front of the ear where the lower jaw pivots is a common problem area. Problems with this joint can cause headache and pain that never goes away. Lesser cases can be corrected with medication, therapy, and splints. However, a more serious case would require reconstruction of the joint.


People with missing teeth often opt for dentures instead of implants. However, some preemptive surgery may be required to make room for the dentures to fit properly.

There are many more problems associated with the face that can be treated with oral surgery. Things like infection, growths, damage from accidents, and facial deformations can all be treated effectively.

For more information specific to your needs, please contact us to set up a consultation with our doctor.

A bridge is a way to replace one or more missing teeth. Replacing missing teeth makes it easier to chew. It can improve your appearance. It also helps keep your teeth, gums, and jaws healthy. There are two main types of bridges: conventional and resin-bonded. A conventional bridge has one or more replacement teeth attached to crowns. The crowns are cemented over the natural teeth on either side of the space to be filled. A resin-bonded bridge has one or more replacement teeth attached to the back of nearby natural teeth using a metal or plastic strip and cement.

The Procedure

It will take two or more dental visits to prepare and fit your bridge.

Preparing Your Teeth

For a conventional bridge, the teeth on either side of the space to be filled must be reshaped. These reshaped teeth hold crowns that support the bridge. Limited reshaping is also necessary with the resin-bonded bridge. For either bridge, impressions of your teeth are taken. These impressions are used to make your bridge. This process takes several weeks. During this time, you may have a temporary bridge to protect your reshaped teeth.

Fitting Your Bridge

When your new bridge is ready, your dentist places it on your teeth and adjusts it until it fits and feels right. The bridge is then cemented or bonded into place. If you have any problems over the next few days, call your dentist. He or she can advise you what to do or make any other adjustments that may be needed.

Dentist uses root canal treatment to find the cause and then treat problems of the tooth’s soft core (the dental pulp). Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment has given dentists a safe way of saving teeth.

What is the Dental Pulp?

The pulp is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. It lies within the tooth and extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root in the bone of the jaws.

What Happens if the Pulp Gets Injured?

An abscessed (infected) tooth caused by tooth decay. When the pulp is diseased or injured and can’t repair itself, it dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let germs (bacteria) enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip, in the jawbone, forming a “pus pocket” called an abscess. An abscess can cause damage to the bone around the teeth.

Why does the Pulp Need to be Removed?

When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain byproducts of the infection can injure your jaw bones. Without treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.

What does Treatment Involve?

Treatment often involves from one to three visits. During treatment, the dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed.

Here’s how your tooth is saved through treatment:

  1. First, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth.
  2. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
  3. The pulp is then removed. The root canal(s) is cleaned and shaped to a form that can be filled.
  4. The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged, and shaped.
  5. Medications may be put in the pulp chamber and root canal(s) to help get rid of germs and prevent infection.
  6. A temporary filling will be placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between dental visits. Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain. You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread beyond the tooth.
  7. The pulp chamber and root canals are filled and sealed.
  8. The temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned and filled.
  9. In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth. If an endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to your family dentist for this final step.
  10. The crown of the tooth is then restored.

How Long will the Restored Tooth Last?

Your restored tooth could last a lifetime if you continue to care for your teeth and gums. However, regular checkups are necessary. As long as the root(s) of a treated tooth are nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth will remain healthy.

Partial Dentures

A partial denture is made up of one or more porcelain or plastic replacement teeth. Gum-colored plastic attaches these teeth to a metal framework. The partial is removable. It is held in your mouth with either metal clasps or precision attachments (special attachments made to fit into existing teeth, often hidden by crowns). You and your dentist will discuss which option is best for you.

Getting the Best Fit

Several visits to the dentist may be needed to be sure the partial fits properly. The following tips may help your mouth adjust faster and more easily:

  • At first, eat soft foods and foods that have been cut into small pieces. Once you’re used to eating with the partial, you can eat almost anything you like. However, avoid very sticky or hard foods.
  • Practice reading out loud until you can talk comfortably with the partial in place.
  • Practice putting the partial in and taking it out in front of a mirror. Never force it or bite down to try to get it into place.

Caring for Partial Dentures

Brush your partial at least once a day and soak your partial in water when you’re not wearing it.

A crown (also called a cap) is a man-made cover that protects the top of a tooth. It may be used to restore and preserve a decayed, broken, or cracked tooth. Crowns can also correct some cosmetic tooth problems, giving you a better smile. A crown is made of gold, other metals, or porcelain. It can also be made of resin, or porcelain and metal. When choosing a crown, think about how it will look and how long it will last.

The Procedure

Restoring your tooth with a crown may take 2 or 3 dental visits. Expect to wait 1 to 2 weeks between appointments. While the permanent crown is being designed and fabricated, a temporary crown is placed to protect the tooth.

As life is unpredictable, dental emergencies do occur unexpectedly. Here at South Bend Family Dentistry we understand some things just can’t wait. Our promise to our patients is to get everyone in no later than the next business day. Just call us; we will do the rest.

A smile can be the most eye-catching feature of a face. With dentistry’s many advances, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth. You now have choices that can help you smile with confidence.

Even the most subtle change in your smile can make a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel about yourself. Talk to your dentist about the options most suitable for you, what your expectations are, and the dental fees involved. Some options are:

Teeth Whitening

Everybody loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours.

Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, cleaning between their teeth once a day and the regular cleanings at your dentist’s office. If you decide you would like to go beyond this to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your options.

You can take several approaches to whiten your smile:


In-Office Bleaching

If you are a candidate for bleaching, your dentist may suggest a procedure that can be done in his or her office. This procedure is called chairside bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to an hour.

During chairside bleaching, the dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent. Lasers have been used during tooth-whitening procedures to enhance the action of the whitening agent.

At-Home Bleaching

There are several types of products available for use at home, which can either be dispensed by your dentist or purchased over the counter.

These products contain peroxide(s), which actually bleach the tooth enamel. These products typically rely on percent carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. Carbamide peroxide comes in several different concentrations (10%, 16%, 22%).

Peroxide-containing whiteners typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. Usage regimens vary. Some products are used for about twice a day for 2 weeks, and others are intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the bleaching solution from the dentist, he or she can make a custom-fitted mouthguard for you that will fit your teeth precisely. Currently, only dentist-dispensed home-use 10% carbamide peroxide tray-applied gels carry the ADA Seal.

You also may want to speak with the dentist should any side effects become bothersome. For example, teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft tissue irritation — either from a tray that doesn’t fit properly or from solution that may come in contact with the tissues. If you have concerns about such side effects, you should discuss them with the dentist.

Whitening Toothpastes

All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these products do not alter the intrinsic color of teeth.


Veneers are a thin, translucent coating made out of porcelain or resin (plastic). They are applied to the front teeth to improve their color, size, or shape. Veneers can help you achieve the smile you want. If you use veneers, avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. Using tobacco in any form can stain certain veneers.

Cosmetic Crowns

A tooth that is chipped, broken, or cracked can be restored with a crown. A crown (also called a cap) is a man-made cover that protects the top of a tooth. It may be used to restore and preserve a decayed, broken, or cracked tooth. Crowns can also correct some cosmetic tooth problems, giving you a better smile. A crown is made of gold, other metals, or porcelain. It can also be made of resin, or porcelain and metal. When choosing a crown, think about how it will look and how long it will last.


It can improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, broken, cracked, stained, or have spaces between them. With bonding, tooth-colored materials are applied, or bonded, to the tooth surface.

Enamel Shaping

It involves modifying teeth to improve their appearance by removing or contouring enamel. The process, which often is combined with bonding, usually is quick and comfortable and the results can be seen immediately.


Braces are not just for kids. Orthodontics may be needed if teeth are crooked, crowded, or do not meet properly. If the dentist thinks you should see a specialist for treatment, she will refer you to an orthodontist.

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