Did you know that in the United States alone, 1 in 6 adults 65 and older suffer from complete edentulousness? That means they’re missing all their teeth!
Unfortunately, not having any teeth left interferes with nutritional intake. That can lead to undernourishment, even malnourishment, considerably reducing one’s quality of life.
The good news is that dental treatments can help you keep all your pearly whites for as long as you live. They can do so by restoring the health of your teeth and preventing decay and gum disease.
To that end, we created this comprehensive guide on the most common dental procedures. Keep reading to learn what they are and how they can help maintain your dazzling smile.
Dental cleaning involves using specialized tools to remove accumulated plaque and tartar. Such devices include dental mirrors, scalers, perioprobes, and curettes, to name a few. They all help eliminate build-up that at-home brushing and flossing can’t.
Plaque is the icky, sticky film that constantly forms on the teeth. It’s full of bacteria that produce acids so powerful they can destroy tooth enamel. These microorganisms are behind cavities (tooth decay) and gum disease.
Tartar, or dental calculus, is the byproduct of hardened plaque on tooth surfaces. It sticks to the teeth, so it stays intact no matter how much you try to brush or floss it away. Even worse, it causes discoloration and encourages the growth of more disease-causing bacteria.
If your oral and physical health is in good condition, you may only need a once-a-year dental cleaning. Double or triple that if you smoke, often drink alcohol, and love sweet or starchy foods. They can all promote tooth weakness, cavities, and gum disease.
Dental fillings are materials used to repair holes in the teeth caused by cavities. Amalgam, gold, composite, and ceramic are the most common fillings.
Prompt treatment with fillings can prevent cavities from worsening and causing tooth loss. They do so because their procedure requires removing the diseased section. That prevents the decay from spreading and breaking down more of the tooth structure.
Root Canal Treatment
The root canal is a cavity in the root of a tooth. It contains dental pulp, a tissue mass filled with nerves and blood vessels. It can get infected due to severe tooth decay or gum disease.
Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that can remove that infection. Also known as endodontics, it involves creating an opening in the tooth’s crown. The dentist then uses that tiny hole to clean the pulp chamber and root canals with special tools.
Once cleaned and disinfected, the tooth receives a filling to close the hole. The dentist then completes the restoration, usually with a dental crown.
Root canal treatment, if done early, can prevent complete tooth loss. Indeed, this procedure saves about 15 million teeth yearly.
Orthodontics is a dental specialization focused on diagnosing and treating malocclusions. Malocclusions refer to the misalignment of the teeth, jaw, or both.
Some cases of malocclusions are mild enough not to require orthodontic intervention. However, according to oral health experts, about 50% to 75% of people in the U.S. can benefit from orthodontics.
That’s because worsening malocclusion can cause bite problems or teeth crookedness. These problems can, in turn, contribute to jaw disorders and dental cavities.
Dental braces and aligners are among the most common orthodontic treatments. Their goal is to straighten the teeth and correct the jaw’s alignment.
Custom Mouth Guards for Bruxism
Bruxism is an involuntary grinding or gnashing of the teeth or clenching of the jaw. It’s most common in children, with prevalence rates ranging from 6% to 50%. It becomes less common in adults; only about 8% of middle-aged adults live with this condition.
Sleep bruxism is bruxism that occurs at night, during sleep. It’s more common than awake bruxism, which occurs during the day while a person is awake.
Untreated bruxism can cause premature wearing and erosion of the teeth. That can then increase one’s risk of tooth decay. It can also cause widespread pain in the face, jaw, and head.
If you experience those symptoms, visit your dentist to prevent further dental trauma. You’ll likely have to wear a custom mouth guard, which your oral healthcare provider will make for you. It cushions the teeth and gums and protects them from the force of grinding or clenching.
Dental bonding is a restorative dental procedure that uses tooth-colored composite resin. This material is flexible and moldable in its uncured form, but once cured, it hardens. These qualities make it an ideal material for fixing tiny chips, cracks, or gaps between teeth.
Dental veneers are ultra-thin, shell-like materials usually made of porcelain. They’re typically for patients with front teeth affected by severe cosmetic flaws. They cover the front surface of the teeth, camouflaging discoloration and stains.
While veneers often classify as cosmetic dental services, they can also be restorative. For example, dentists sometimes use them to fix minor tooth flaws like tiny chips or cracks.
Also known as tooth or dental caps, dental crowns go over the entire teeth from top to bottom and side to side. Unlike veneers, these “caps” are usually for restoring premolars and molars. That’s because they’re thicker and, therefore, sturdier.
For the same reason, dental crowns are the preferred choice for severe tooth damage.
Severe tooth damage may occur due to advanced cavities or trauma. These problems may cause a considerable loss of tooth structure. However, if there’s enough tooth left, a dentist may still be able to save it by covering it with a dental crown.
Keep Smiling With Dental Treatments
Untreated oral diseases are behind millions of U.S. emergency department visits annually. They even lead to productivity losses amounting to billions of dollars yearly. After all, they cause severe pain and suffering that interferes with one’s daily life.
All that should be enough reason to visit your dentist for dental treatments. And even if you don’t have oral diseases, you can still benefit from dental cleanings. With these procedures, you can maintain the health of your teeth, gums, and smile.
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