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Services and Technologies

Signature Orthodontics has provided personalized dental care for thousands of families. Our patients love coming to our office to experience the warm, individualized care we provide. We pride ourselves in offering a variety of services and using cutting-edge equipment and techniques.

We use state-of-the-art technologies in all of our procedures in order to provide our patients the best care possible.

Click the Services below for more information on each subject.

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Orthodontics for Children

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?

    Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal

Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

Why should malocclusions be treated?

    According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can
    result in a variety of problems:
  • Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
  • Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
  • Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
  • Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.

Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.

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Adult Orthodontics

Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. Tooth alignment can be changed at any age if your gums and bone structure are healthy. We offer a variety of treatments that are designed for different age groups – including adults. A new smile can begin today.

Orthodontic treatment at later stages in life can dramatically improve your personal appearance and self-esteem. Improving the health of your teeth and gums is equally important. Crooked teeth and a bad bite can contribute to gum and bone loss, tooth decay, abnormal wear of the tooth enamel and surfaces, headaches and jaw joint (TMJ/TMD) pain.

Good news! The new techniques and appliances we use greatly reduce discomfort levels, decrease the frequency of visits, shorten treatment time and may allow you to choose from several options. Your options may include metal braces, translucent braces or transparent aligners that can be worn to improve mild cases of misaligned teeth.

During the initial examination, we will be able to determine the best possible treatment for your individual needs. During this initial examination, we can outline the treatment plan, time of treatment expected and the approximate cost.

A large percentage of our patients are adults, and they agree that it’s never too late to improve their greatest asset – their smile.

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Orthodontic Treatments

Each patient’s orthodontic condition requires a treatment plan based on a specialized diagnosis of the case. The treatment process involves X-rays, dental impressions and photographs. Braces have one aim: to use gentle pressure to move teeth into proper alignment. Treatment time varies depending on age, patient compliance and the severity of the condition. Generally, treatment lasts for 24 months and is facilitated by ideal patient cooperation.

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Two-Phase Treatment

When a patient is evaluated and needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment plans.

The first phase a treatment, Phase I, usually occurs when the patient is a child and still has his or her primary teeth. The Phase I treatment plan can include preventive, interceptive or modifying treatment. Orthodontic appliances may be placed to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or help direct jawbone growth. Multiple problems with tooth alignment, gums, jaws and facial problems can be corrected with Phase I treatment. Another common added benefit of Phase I treatment is less Phase II treatment time.

Typically, Phase II treatment is normal orthodontic treatment. This involves placing braces on the patient once his or her permanent teeth have erupted. The braces straighten the permanent teeth and finish correctly aligning the patient's jaw.

Patients who have undergone both Phase I and Phase II treatment are more likely to have lasting results. Our goal for your two-phase orthodontic treatment is to give you correctly aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile!

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Surgical Orthodontics

Corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaws and the teeth. Often, these abnormalities cause difficulty associated with chewing, talking, sleeping and other routine activities. Orthognathic surgery corrects these problems and, in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, will improve the overall appearance of the facial profile.

Using the latest in digital imaging technology, we will demonstrate the overall functional and aesthetic benefits of orthognathic surgery. Computerized treatment planning minimizes treatment times, recovery periods and the overall efficacy of your surgery. State-of-the-art materials such as titanium plates and miniature screws provide stability, strength and predictability to your treatment. These advances in technology, procedures and equipment reduce post-surgical recovery time, thus allowing patients to return to their normal routines soon after the surgery.

Orthognathic surgery may be unnecessary if orthodontic treatment can correct the problem. With the latest advances in orthodontics, this is sometimes the case. We will determine if orthognathic surgery is the correct treatment option for you.

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BONDING

Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly-chipped, discolored or crooked teeth, often for cosmetic purposes. The process comprises placing a white filling on your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling "bonds" with your teeth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.

Bonding can also be used in place of regular amalgam fillings. Many patients prefer bonded fillings, because the white color is much less noticeable than the silver of the amalgam fillings. Bonding fillings can be used on front and back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.

Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and breaks more easily than other cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers.

If your bonding does break or chip, please let us know. We can generally patch or repair bonding in one visit.

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BRIDGES

A bridge is an ideal method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge is one or more artificial teeth that are cemented into place using the real teeth on either side for support--hence the name. Bridges are a perfect option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. A bridge replaces the missing tooth both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. Bridge materials include gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all-ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.

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CROWNS

Crowns are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to replace missing teeth. A crown, also called a cap, is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens the tooth, but it can also dramatically improve the tooth's appearance, shape and alignment.

Crowns may be used to...

  • Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly-shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
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DENTAL CLEANING

A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only 25 to 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing.

Scaling and root planing is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces with a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has led to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. Both electric and manual scaling methods can be combined to achieve the best results. Polishing completes the cleaning, making the surface of the teeth smooth and minimizing future plaque build-up.

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DENTURES

A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. There are two types of dentures available: partial dentures and complete dentures. Partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain and complete dentures are used to replace all teeth. Dentures are made to resemble your natural teeth, so there should be no noticeable change to appearance. In fact, dentures may even improve a smile!

Complete Dentures – This restoration method is used to restore smile and mouth function if all teeth have been lost. The dentures are custom created and natural looking. They are fit in the patient's mouth to take the place of the original teeth. Complete dentures are generally removable and may require adjustments in order to create a proper fit with the gums and mouth.

Partial Dentures – A removable partial denture is used when one or more natural teeth still remain in the upper or lower jaw. Made of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, partials help restore better functionality to the mouth. As with complete dentures, it is possible to have more permanent option cemented into place.

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EXTRACTIONS

Good oral hygiene is a must. The loss of a single tooth can have major impact on overall oral health and appearance. Although dentists will use every measure to prevent tooth loss, there are still some occasions when a tooth needs to be extracted. A tooth may need to be extracted if the following occurs:

  • Severe decay
  • Advanced gum disease
  • Infection or abscess
  • Orthodontic correction
  • Malpositioned teeth
  • Fractured teeth or roots
  • Impacted teeth

The dentist may suggest an extraction after careful examination and treatment—usually taking x-rays to understand the shape and position of the tooth and surrounding bone before extracting the tooth. Based on the degree of difficulty, a dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon.

A certain amount of pain and discomfort is to be expected following an extraction, but it can be minimized with pain killers and ice packs applied to the face for 15 minutes at a time. Discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks.

If you experience prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, call our office immediately.

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FILLINGS

A filling is a way to restore a tooth decayed tooth back to its normal shape and function. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, then clean the affected area and fill the cleaned-out cavity with a filling material. This filling will help prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria might enter.

There are a variety of filling materials available including gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. We will work with you to determine which material is best for you, depending on the extent of repair, the location of the filling and the cost. Each of the filling materials is briefly explained below:

Gold fillings are custom-made in a laboratory and then cemented into place. While gold fillings are often the most expensive choice, many consider gold as the best filling material. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissues and may last more than 20 years.

Amalgam (silver) fillings are a more inexpensive choice and are also well-tolerated. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not recommended for fillings in very visible areas such as front teeth.

Composite (plastic) resin fillings are custom-made to the exact color of the patient's teeth, creating a more natural appearance. While these white fillings may be less noticeable than other materials, they usually only last between 3 and 10 years. They may not be ideal for larger fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.

Porcelain fillings, called inlays or onlays, are created in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, they resist staining, and they cost about the same as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.

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GUM TREATMENT

It's estimated that more than half of U.S. adults have gingivitis. Gingivitis, in some cases, can lead to periodontitis (gum disease) and host of other health problems.

Gum disease can cause bleeding, swelling, bad breath, pain, receding gums and tooth loss. But it doesn't always stop there. You oral health is the beginning point for your whole body's health and wellness. It is imperative that we stop problems before they even start!

Gum disease causes a buildup of bacteria in deep pockets between the teeth and gums. That bacteria can transfer to your bloodstream when gums bleed, putting you at a much higher risk to develop the following health problems:

  • Stroke
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Pre-Term Births

Periodontal treatment typically involves containing the infection through deep cleaning like scaling and root planing, clearing buildup at the root of the teeth. The dentist may also suggest specific toothpastes and mouth rinses. We may also prescribe antibiotics to fight infections. Surgery is required for the most severe cases.

We examine you for gum health at every 6-month check-up. If you have been experiencing any symptoms like bad breath, bleeding or tender gums, please let us know. We will decide what is the best form of treatment to restore your gums to optimum health.

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IMPLANT PLACEMENT

A dental implant is an ideal tooth restoration for people who are missing one or more teeth for reasons like injury or periodontal disease. To begin the implant process, a metal post is surgically positioned into the jaw. This post will act as a permanent "root" for the implanted tooth. Once it is in place, the surrounding bone and tissue needs time to heal.

Implant placement requires special training, as it is a surgical procedure. Our team is highly- trained in implant placement to meet your dental needs. Implants require healthy gums and adequate bone. A patient must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits, as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.

Please set up a consultation for this comprehensive procedure.

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IMPLANT RESTORATION

A dental implant is an ideal tooth restoration for people who are missing one or more teeth for reasons like injury or periodontal disease. After a metal post is placed, the restoration is completed with a replacement crown. While implants are typically more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, they provide superior benefits. Implants are stronger than natural teeth and generally last 10-20 years. They are also a more favorable approach than bridgework, because they do not depend on neighboring teeth for support.

Implants require healthy gums and adequate bone. A patient must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits, as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the procedures involved in dental implants.

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INVISALIGN

Invisalign is an attractive alternative to traditional metal braces. It is a series of clear, custom-fit removable mouth trays that apply a controlled amount of force to your teeth to slowly straighten them. The system provides the same beautiful results as traditional braces, but they are virtually invisible. Because Invisalign trays are removable, they can be taken out while eating, drinking, brushing and flossing.

The Invisalign system begins in the dentist or orthodontist's office with taking molds to design a your trays. Patients switch trays every two weeks to gradually shift the teeth. The system requires a visit to the office every six weeks so that treatment can be monitored. Once treatment is complete, a patient will likely be given a retainer to maintain the smile.

The cost of Invisalign varies according to the complexity of the case. Insurance policies generally cover Invisalign to the same extent that they cover traditional braces.

Contact us for an Invisalign consultation.

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IV SEDATION

A variety of forms of dental sedation are used to help patients who suffer from dental anxiety or phobia. There are multiple levels of sedation to ease every level of anxiety, and IV sedation is the perfect option for patients who might otherwise avoid the dentist. IV sedation is commonly referred to as "sleep dentistry--" it will be as if you fell asleep, and you won't remember the procedure. A specific set of drugs are administered via IV for the duration of the procedure or procedures, and you will be carefully monitored to ensure your safety. Often reserved for oral surgery, IV sedation is also available to those with intense dental anxiety and phobia. It makes dentistry easy.

If you feel that IV sedation is the best option for you, set up a consultation today! We are happy to answer any of your questions.

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MOUTH GUARDS

Custom-designed mouth guards and night guards are made of flexible plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth. Mouth guards are recommended to protect the jaw, tongue, cheek lining and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, or other activities where your mouth might get hit. Night guards are recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night to protect their teeth. Guards generally last 3-10 years.

Custom-made oral appliances can also be used as part of treatment for conditions like sleep apnea and TMJ disorders. In general, plastic appliances can be used to correct a variety of problems.

If you are active in athletics or experiencing any concerning experiences with your mouth, teeth, or jaw, please let us know. If any kind of guard or appliance is a good option for you, we will take an impression of your teeth to create a custom-fit product for your specific needs.

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NITROUS OXIDE SEDATION

Nitrous oxide sedation, also known as "laughing gas," is commonly used to make treatment more comfortable. The nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask and produces a state of relaxation. Local anesthetic will be administered in conjunction with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain. Nitrous oxide is designed to make procedures easier for nervous patients and has been effective for many years.

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ORAL SEDATION

Oral sedation is an excellent option for patients who suffer from dental anxiety. It is simply taken in pill or liquid form and ingested at a set time before treatment. The drug produces a calming effect to make the visit to our office a much less stressful experience. Oral sedation is simple, safe and has very few side effects.

Ask us about our sedation options.

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ORTHODONTICS

Orthodontics is the art of using special appliances to straighten and align the teeth and bite. Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment. In this method, arch wires are threaded through brackets that are bonded to the surface of the teeth. The arch wires act as a track, and guide each tooth to its proper position. There are several types of orthodontic braces available, including the more traditional metal braces, ceramic "tooth colored" braces, as well as clear plastic braces.

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ROOT CANALS

Root canal treatment, also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy, is used to save an infected or damaged tooth and avoid having to remove it. A root canal becomes necessary when a neglected cavity reaches all the way to the pulp at the center of the tooth, causing the pulp to become infected. Regular cleanings and checkups detect and prevent problems early on.

Trauma can also cause deep damage to the nerve of a tooth. Once this occurs, the pulp becomes infected, and it begins to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is called an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system, making it very dangerous and painful.

Symptoms of infected pulp may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain with biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms, and you are unaware of any problem until a checkup.

A root canal is performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) is filled to prevent any further infection. Crowns are usually recommended to cover and restore a tooth after root canal therapy.

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SEALANTS

Sealants are a common preventive treatment in dentistry. Some teeth have fine grooves or pits that accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn't brush, but because the grooves are too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. When plaque accumulates, it can lead to cavities and other types of tooth decay. To apply sealants, a plastic material is brushed onto the tooth, filling these narrow grooves and preventing the cavity-causing buildup. Sealants make healthy teeth possible.

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TMJ TREATMENT

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and is used to describe dysfunction or disorders related to the joint. "Temporo," refers to the temple area of the skull; "mandibular," refers to the lower jaw; and "joint" is essentially where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a trauma, misalignment of the teeth, or excess muscle tension. The two bones that meet at the jaw are buffered by cartilage and five different muscles, so TMJ can cause a variety of troubles.

Common TMJ symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Pain in the jaw muscles
  • Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face

Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, and more. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If TMJ is left untreated and reaches extremes, surgery may be required to repair the badly damaged joint.

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VENEERS

Veneers are a cosmetic dental procedure in which a thin layer of porcelain or composite material is placed over the outside of the tooth. They are used to improve esthetics or help with tooth damage. Veneers are usually only performed on the front part of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The procedure can be direct or indirect.

The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using bonding. Because of that, the direct technique is usually referred to as bonding.

The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers are fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions are taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. The veneers are back from the laboratory after two or three weeks. The temporaries are removed, and the veneers are bonded to the teeth.The laboratory-fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic, and are esthetically pleasing.

The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less of the tooth material has to be removed, and the procedure is generally less uncomfortable. Veneers are not recommended for patients who have large fillings or little tooth structure. They are also typically recommended for the restoration of front teeth.

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TEETH WHITENING

Teeth whitening is a popular procedure to make your teeth whiter and brighter, and therefore more attractive. Bleaching can be used to whiten stained and discolored teeth, or simply to enhance a dull smile. Either way, teeth whitening is a safe and relatively painless procedure for most patients. Whitening comes in strips, trays, or in-office procedures. We offer a wide variety of options for you at our practice.

In-office bleaching procedures are ideal if you want immediate results. The whole process takes about an hour, taking little time out of busy lives. A protective gel is applied to your gums to protect the soft tissue. Then a special light-activated gel is applied to your teeth and light or laser is used to enhance the action of the agent. Finally, the patient receives a take-home gel and instructions to keep the smile bright. The result is dramatically whiter teeth that will last for years.

Tray whitening is a less-expensive and convenient at-home whitening treatment. The results are more gradual. An impression is taken at the dentist's office in order to create a customized clear tray. Trays are generally ready within a few days, depending, and the patient must follow instructions for how to apply the gel in the trays and how often to use it. Maximum whitening results and a dazzling smile are achieved at the end of the set treatment period. An occasional treatment can be used to maintain the new smile.

Whitening strips can be available at the local store or at dental practices. The dentist will have the best recommendations for your needs.

Ask about our whitening options! Please consult us about use of over-the-counter whitening treatments.

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WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTIONS

Wisdom teeth are the last molars, or "third molars" that develop on each side of the jaw. They usually emerge in the back of the mouth between the ages of 16-20.

Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. Often, however, they cause problems and require removal. When the jaw isn't large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth may grow sideways, emerge only part way through the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

A wisdom tooth extraction is a relatively routine procedure. The dentist will numb the area in the mouth with a local anesthesia or use IV sedation so that the patient is asleep during the procedure.

After the tooth (or teeth) is removed, the patient is given gauze and bites down softly for a recommended amount of time to limit any bleeding. Some pain and swelling may occur, but it will usually go away after a few days. Please call our office if, after following post-op instructions, you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever.

Click the All about Braces links below for more information on each subject.

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Orthodontic Dictionary

Archwire

A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

Band (orthodontic)

A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

Bracket

An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

Ceramic Brackets

Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.

Crowding

Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

Debanding

The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

Elastics (rubber bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

Gingiva

The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.

Headgear

Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Herbst appliance

Fixed or removable appliance designed commonly for overbite problems and more.

Imaging

The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.

Lingual

Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

Lingual Appliances

Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.

Maxillary

Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

Orthodontist

A dental specialist who has completed an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the special area of orthodontics.

Orthognathic Surgery

Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

Overbite

Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

Palatial Expander

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch. When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

Radiograph

A permanent image, typically on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.

Retainer

Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

Retention

The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.

Straight Wire Appliance

A variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends. Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.

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Emergency Care

What to Do in Case of Emergency

Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.

Loose Brackets or Bands

Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

Wire Irritations

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

Lost Separators

Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment

During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.

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Retainers

When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention stage of your treatment. The retention phase lasts for 18 months. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing, and brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth. Retainers are necessary to maintain tooth alignment throughout your life. If you stop wearing your retainers you risk having your teeth move.

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Caring for your Teeth with Braces

Interdental Toothbrush

A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. The Proxabrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Topical Fluoride

Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay while you are wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of Phos-Flur does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your daily schedule at bedtime. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out. You may not eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use Phos-Flur. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.

Cleaning Your Removable Appliance

Brush your removable appliance every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth. Dissolve a Retainer Brita tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance once a month. Your appliance will taste better, and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.

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Types of Appliances

Class II Corrector

The Class II Corrector is used in order to help move the upper molars back while moving the lower arch forward. Composed of a spring coil rod, the appliance is used while a patient is currently wearing braces. It runs from the upper first molar band down to the lower arch wire.You may notice some discomfort initially, so we recommend a soft food diet for the first few days after the appliance is placed. Regular anti-inflammatory medication may help with any discomfort, if needed. It is important to keep the appliance clean; you may do this by carefully brushing the coil and other metal pieces of the appliance. Also, we recommend that patients not open their mouths very wide, as the appliance may come apart. If your Class II Corrector breaks, please contact our office immediately to schedule a repair appointment.

Headgear

Headgear is often used to correct an excessive overbite. This is done by placing pressure against the upper teeth and jaw, which would hold the teeth in position or help move them into better positions. The severity of the problem determines the length of time headgear needs to be worn. The key to success with your headgear appliance is consistency. Headgear must be worn 12 hours per day, and if not, it must be made up the following day.Headgear should never be worn while playing sports and should also be removed while eating or brushing your teeth.

Herbst Appliance

One of the most common problems orthodontists treat is the discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower. Ordinarily, when we see a patient with the upper teeth protruding, we tend to think that the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward; but, more often than not, this condition is due to a small lower jaw that is further back than it should be. With these patients, we would like to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and braces like the Herbst appliance help this happen. Even though the Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward, opening and closing movement still occur easily, and patients do not have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position. As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, cold foods such as ice slushes, Popsicles and ice will freeze the cement and make the brace loosen. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the brace away from the teeth. Hard foods like crisp vegetables and hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance, too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment. Your Herbst appliance will be checked and adjusted at your appointments. If, sometimes between appointments, you develop some sore areas on the inside of your cheeks, please do not try to adjust the appliance yourself. Call for an appointment so that the necessary adjustments can be made.

Rapid Palatal Expander

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch. When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.




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Types of Braces

Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most common type. They are made of high-grade stainless steel. Today's metal braces are smaller, more comfortable and more attractive.

Clear Braces

Ceramic braces are made of translucent (clear) material. They are most popular with adult patients, due to their cosmetic appeal. The only drawback to ceramic brackets is that they are more fragile, and the elastic ties can discolor between orthodontic visits.

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Life with Braces

Today, orthodontic treatment is simple, convenient and affordable for patients of all ages. And an attractive smile is just one of the benefits. Orthodontic treatment results in correctly aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile! Additionally, your teeth are easier to clean and more resistant to gum disease. Perhaps most importantly, orthodontic treatment almost always provides improved self-confidence.

Click the Technologies below for more information on each subject.

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AcceleDent®

You want to improve the look of your smile, but does the thought of spending months, or even years, in braces sound like too much of a hassle? With the AcceleDent® System, you can now reduce the time of your orthodontic treatment by 38 to 50%! Using this pain-free, easy appliance, you’ll achieve your most perfect smile in no time at all. How does AcceleDent® work?

AcceleDent® is a light, comfortable, and hands-free appliance that is used 20 minutes per day as a complement to braces to accelerate tooth movement. The patented technology gently vibrates the teeth and surrounding bone, allowing teeth to move more freely. The best part of the AcceleDent® System is that it’s completely safe! You may experience a slight tingling sensation, much like that of the vibration of an electric toothbrush, but it should diminish after you become accustomed to using the appliance.

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AIR ABRASION

Air abrasion is a drill-less and more gentle approach to remove decay from the teeth. An air abrasion unit is a small instrument that blasts a fine stream of air and particles onto the teeth to spray away decay. The small particles are made of silica, aluminum oxide or baking soda and aid in cleaning the tooth surface. Air abrasion allows for decay to quickly be removed while conserving healthy tooth structure. The particles and decay are then suctioned out of the mouth.

Air abrasion is gentle because it generates no heat, sound, pressure or vibration. In addition, it reduces the need for anesthesia, making it an ideal choice for children and those who experience dental anxiety.

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AQUA ABRASION

Aqua abrasion is a new cutting and polishing systems that works in the same fashion as air abrasion. In addition to removing decay and preparing restorations, it can be used to effectively clean and polish the teeth through a fine stream of water that is sprayed onto the tooth surface. The aquabrasion system can replace the drill in many dental procedures and it quickly removes decay while conserving healthy tooth structure. Its gentle nature can eliminate the need for local anesthesia in many procedures.

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AUTOMATED APPOINTMENT REMINDERS

Society has made so many advances in communication in recent years—why not utilize that for appointment reminders? As dental offices go digital, reminders can go beyond the written cards or personal phone calls that are prone to human error. Systems are becoming computerized and automated, providing patients timely reminders through email and sometimes text messaging too.

Ask our staff at the front desk about the options we provide so that we can set up a reminder system that is most convenient for you.

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CAVITY DETECTION TECHNOLOGY

While dentists are trained to detect cavities in a variety of ways, poking and prodding--even x-rays--don't catch everything.

Diagnosing cavities in the back of the mouth using traditional methods is difficult; studies even show that 50% of cavities are left undetected in these areas. However, today's technologies enable the location of these cavities to put a stop to further decay. DIAGNOdent is one of the more popular technologies, utilizing lasers for detection. Others utilize LED fluorescence, or function as a special attachment to intraoral cameras for a closer look. All of these are completely safe, and they enhance the dentist's ability to find cavities (also called caries). Better accuracy for better treatment plans--it's devices like these that help us detect and treat cavities before they become a real problem.

Feel free to ask us about the technologies we use for diagnosis.

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CEREC

CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. This high-tech equipment allows us to restore damaged teeth with beautiful custom ceramic crowns in a single visit, completely eliminating the need or multiple appointments over a several week period. The process can create a ceramic dental crown, inlays, onlays or veneers using a variety of technologies including 3D photography and computer-aided design and manufacturing known as CAD/CAM.

Using an intra-oral camera, a photograph is taken of the tooth and the picture is loaded onto the computer. Using Computer Aided Design technology, the dentist is able to design the restoration and transform the image into a three-dimensional model. This valuable program then allows the dentist to easily calculate the appropriate restoration shape and size to create near perfect restoration. When the model is ready, a milling machine then creates the restoration using a high-speed diamond bur and calculated precision. The restoration is then bonded to the tooth using a resin material. The result is a beautiful and custom designed and produced restoration, made entirely to fit your mouth. CEREC crowns are metal-free and have been used for over 20 years.

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COMPUTER SHADE MATCHING

Our office uses computerized shade matching to make restorations that perfectly match the color of your natural teeth. Old methods of shade matching can be inaccurate and inconsistent. Our shade matching system is a small hand-held device that captures tooth hue, value and chroma to create precise color matches. With this technology, you can be confident that your restorations will beautifully match your natural teeth.

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DIAGNOdent

Providing the absolute best service to our patients is of the highest importance to our office. To aid in achieving this goal, we use a new high-tech device called the DIAGNOdent. This small tool is a portable laser that allows us to detect cavities on the chewing surface of the back teeth that would have otherwise gone undetected by previous methods. Diagnosing cavities in the back of the mouth using traditional methods is difficult; studies even show that 50% of cavities are left undetected in these areas. However, the new DIAGNOdent enables us to locate and treat these cavities, putting a stop to further decay. The laser is easy to use, harmless, and will alert us with an audible signal if it detects a cavity. It will even calculate the approximate size of the cavity so we can better plan treatment. By using this device, you can rest assured that cavities will be accurately detected and treated in their infancy.

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DIGITAL IMAGING

We use digital imaging software in our office, which allows us to take a digital picture of you and use our imaging system to predict how a particular treatment or cosmetic procedure would change the appearance of your teeth. This software is beneficial for patients who are considering cosmetic procedures but are not sure if they're ready for dramatic changes. Digital imaging also allows us to document your dental case and procedures very well. We take digital images of your face, teeth and smile to provide us with a permanent dental record and to provide a visual documentation of treatment.

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DIGITAL X-RAYS

Digital radiography uses an estimated 40-90 percent less radiation than conventional film x-rays. Digital x-rays use a digital image capture device in place of traditional film, sending an image immediately to a computer. The result is a highly-detailed image of the mouth, and its contrast and resolution can be enhanced to more easily diagnose dental problems and determine the very best treatment for each case.

This means more safety and better accuracy for you.

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E-CLAIMS

Many offices utilize electronic claims processing. This means that rather than being sent through the mail, a dental claim is sent electronically to an insurance company with the click of a button. We can submit information more efficiently and with fewer errors. This benefits patients because the turn-around time on claims is faster, and fewer claims are returned or denied.

We are happy to submit your dental claims to your insurance company on your behalf. Please let us know if you have any questions about the e-claim process.

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FILM X-RAYS

X-rays are a focused beam of x-ray particles that pass through bone to produce an image on special film, clearly showing the structure through which it passed. This creates the familiar black-and-white images doctors and dentists use to diagnose oral health issues. Without an x-ray of the whole tooth and supporting bone and gum tissues, there would be no way to detect infection or pathology that requires attention.

X-rays are an integral part of diagnosis and approved for periodic use in comprehensive exams. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

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INTRAORAL CAMERA

Intraoral cameras, cameras about the size of a pen, help dentists see the condition of teeth and gums more clearly. This advanced technology allows us to zoom in on small diseased areas, cracks, chips and worn metal fillings to provide a more detailed view. The full-color images are sent to a computer screen, making it easy to see and diagnose dental problems much earlier than with traditional dental technology. Patients are also able to watch the whole process because the images are displayed on screens in treatment rooms.

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LASER DENTISTRY

Laser dentistry is an important advancement in dental technology, treating a wide range of dental and cosmetic problems from cavities to gum disease. Hard tissue lasers are used to repair cavities, remove old fillings and prepare teeth for bonding. Soft tissue lasers are used on gum tissue. They are an alternative to the common hand-held scalpel, drills, or other tools. Lasers can even be used for teeth whitening. Laser dentistry works by directing an invisible energy beam on problem areas and allowing for efficient treatment of decayed teeth, enamel and gums. The biggest benefit of laser dentistry, by far, is that it can reduce pain and minimize use of anesthetic. Dental procedures can become much more comfortable for you! Dental lasers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are safe for both adults and children.

If you ever have any questions about the equipment we use at our office to enhance the quality of your experience, don't hesitate to ask.

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PAPERLESS CHARTING

Paperless charting means more efficiency and more accuracy. An office that has "gone digital" records x-rays and charting with the aid of the computer and keeps all patients' dental records electronically. Additionally, it cuts back on paper use. With traditional paper charting, information can be lost in translation from doctor to hygienist to assistant. Even handwriting differences and coding make the charts look different. The computer eliminates this problem by standardizing charting methods, making it easy to understand dental charts, view up-to-date information and keep records accurately. When needed, this method also allows dental offices to more easily share information with other healthcare providers.

If you have any questions in regards to your records with us, please let us know.

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PATIENT EDUCATION SOFTWARE

You deserve to be in the loop when it comes to your dental care. There are a variety of computer programs available to help patients better understand conditions, procedures and treatment options. Our office invests in patient education software because we want you to feel confident in every dental decision you make. This investment helps us clearly communicate--and it helps you learn more.

Popular programs include GURU and DentalMaster, among many others. If you have any questions about the program we use, we're happy to point you to the website. If you have any further questions about your oral health and procedures, don't hesitate to ask us.

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SAME-DAY CROWNS

Thanks to advances in dental technology, crowns no longer have to be a weeks-long process. CAD/CAM technology makes it possible to create and place a crown in one day.

CAD/CAM stands for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. This technology allows the dentist to use an intraoral scanner inside the mouth to take a digital scan of a tooth that has been prepared to receive a crown. Using special software, the data from the scan is used to generate a design (CAD) for a custom crown. This program will also generate a custom blueprint and guidelines to manufacture the new crown (CAM) with a milling machine. CAD/CAM enables us to create precise and custom crowns, inlays and onlays in one single visit.

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TELESCOPIC LOUPE

The dentist performs most of his dental procedures while wearing a pair of funny looking glasses called surgical telescopes. These powerful glasses have magnifiers on them, allowing the dentist to see fine details that would go unnoticed to the naked eye.

Frequently Asked Questions