Q) What does a cleaning
A) While most people think
of a visit to the dentist as just a cleaning,
the truth is that Dr. Van Sluyters does much
more than this. In our office, at each recall
appointment we provide many services. First,
we do a thorough screening of your health history
for any risk factors that might cause disease.
These factors include medications that cause
dry-mouth, social factors such as heavy alcohol
or tobacco use, and systemic disease like diabetes
or cancer treatment. Second, we examine the
soft tissues of the head and neck for cancers,
enlarged lymph nodes, and any pathology. Then,
we take radiographs to check for pathology,
cavities, and evidence of gum disease. Finally,
we thoroughly check your teeth and gums for
cavities, clenching, gum disease, and defective
restorations. After we collect all these findings,
we share them with the patient in clear language
so they understand any problems.
How can I prevent cavities and gum disease?
No surprises here. The best medicine is prevention;
daily brushing and flossing as well as avoiding
sugary snacks and sodas. Also, habits like smoking
can dry out your mouth leading to cavities and
gum disease. In addition, some medications,
including those for high blood pressure and
allergies, can lead to dry mouth. Without saliva
to flush away food, bacteria and the toxins
and acids they produce can lead to decay and
loss of the bony support of the teeth.
Q) I’m concerned about radiation from
dental X-rays. Are they really necessary…
A) X-ray pictures are a very
common procedure in dentistry. They are used
to evaluate for many conditions:
-Cavities between the teeth and under crowns
-Impacted wisdom teeth
-Gum disease and periodontitis
-Abscesses and infections
-Cancers and other tumors
We stand by the American Dental Associations
recommendation to have bitewing Xrays taken
annually, and full mouth series taken every
3-5 years. Some patients are understandably
concerned about having this exposure to radiation.
The truth is that the actual amount of radiation
in dental xrays is quite minimal.
To help put things in perspective, a full set
of dental x-rays is equivalent to a day's worth
of typical exposure to the sun and other environmental
rays. Considering that people are constantly
surrounded by these rays, which travel through
windows and buildings, exposure through dental
x-rays is comparably minimal.
Furthermore Dr. Van Sluyters uses the latest
digital X-ray technology that allows us to lower
patient exposure by up to 70%.
my old silver amalgam fillings safe?
A) Recently silver amalgam fillings
have received quite a bit of media exposure
due to the fact that they are comprised of 50%
mercury, a known toxin. While the ADA steadfastly
supports the medical safety of these fillings,
Dr. Van Sluyters has chosen to eliminate them
from his practice. In addition to possible medical
concerns, many patients with silver metal fillings
have experienced fractures in teeth that have
been filled with silver amalgam. The physical
properties of the more modern white fillings
(composite resin) help to eliminate these concerns.
In addition to the natural look, the new white
fillings actually "bond" to the enamel,
resulting in a much stronger tooth that has
less susceptibility to cracking.
Q) Do you recommend a
specific toothbrush or toothpaste?
A) In general, the best tools for oral
health are a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste
containing fluoride, and dental floss. One of
the more highly regarded toothpastes is Colgate
Total, which has been shown to help reduce gingivitis
(gum inflammation caused by plaque). Electric
toothbrushes such as the Sonicare can help improve
oral hygiene and reduce gingivitis. No matter
what brushing regimen you follow, there is no
substitute for good old-fashioned flossing.
Q) Why should I replace
a missing tooth?
A) Sometimes a tooth must be removed
due to extensive decay, fracture, infection,
or loss of bone support. While tooth loss causes
several obvious problems, such as cosmetic issues
and reduced chewing ability, there are less
obvious results as well.
First, the teeth behind the new gap begin to
drift forward and tip. This can lead to problems
with your bite, difficulty in cleaning, spaces
that catch food, etc. Then, the teeth opposing
that space begin to slowly erupt until they
hit those tipped teeth. Second, once a tooth
has been removed, the bone surrounding the socket
begins to shrink because it is not longer stimulated
by biting forces. Eventually, this shrinkage
will eliminate certain restorative options such
as dental implants.
A) Veneers are thin shells
of porcelain that are bonded to the teeth to
correct cosmetic defects in a patients smile.
This process leads to a very strong restoration
that can last many years. Veneers can correct
things like gaps between the teeth, tetracycline
staining, worn or jagged edges, malformed or
short teeth, crooked teeth, or just give you
a "Hollywood" smile. There are two
ways to accomplish the procedure. In one way,
the veneers are fabricated to bond to the patients
existing teeth, with no modification. Typically
anesthetic injections and drilling are not required.
The second way to provide veneers is done by
preparing the teeth. In this procedure, a thin
layer of enamel (~0.5mm) is removed from the
front surface of the teeth. The veneers are
then bonded to the remaining natural enamel.
During the examination, Dr. Van Sluyters helps
his patients decide which approach is best for
Q) What is a Crown?
A) A crown, or cap, is a restoration
made by the dental lab technician that completely
covers a tooth. The process requires two visits.
During the first visit, Dr. Van Sluyters will
remove any decay or old restorations from the
tooth. If necessary, a "Build Up"
filling is then placed that recreates the shape
of tooth. An impression is then taken that the
lab tech uses to custom fabricate the crown
to your tooth. At the final visit, the dentist
permanently cements the crown.
A crown is indicated when a tooth has advanced
decay, a fracture, or has been root canal treated.
These conditions significantly weaken a tooth.
Covering a tooth with a crown protects the tooth
from heavy biting forces, especially on posterior
is a Root Canal?
Within each tooth there exists a bundle
of nerves and blood vessels. This bundle can
be very sensitive to things like bacterial toxins
and decay. If decay causes inflammation of the
nerve inside the tooth, then the blood vessels
inside the tooth begin to swell. Since the tooth
is hard, that pressure has no where to go. This
pressure is what causes severe toothaches.
Once a nerve has become irreversibly inflamed
or actually died, root canal therapy must be
performed. Otherwise, there is a risk of infection
within the bone where the nerve exits the root.
Root canal therapy involves removing the nerve
tissue and sealing the nerve canals to prevent
bacteria from infiltrating the tooth again.
The majority of teeth that receive root canal
therapy should have a crown placed to prevent
fracture of the tooth.
is a Dental Implant?
A) Dental Implants are one way to replace
missing teeth. The implant itself is a small
fixture made of medical grade titanium that
is placed into the jaw bone during a minor surgical
procedure. After a certain number of weeks,
Dr. Van Sluyters is able to fabricate a crown
that attaches to the top of this implant fixture.
While the idea of a surgical procedure may seem
daunting, most patients experience little to
no discomfort the day after surgery.
what age should children first see the dentist?
A) In general, the sooner the better.
While a toddler may not need a cleaning at age
2, having your dentist examine him or her for
normal patterns of growth in the jaw, face,
and teeth may pick up problems that are better
treated early. For most kids, though, the benefit
of going to the dentist early is that they learn
that the dentist isn't a scary place. In fact,
going to the dentist can be fun!
In our practice, we begin seeing children for
regular cleanings and check-ups around age 3-4.
We encourage you to bring your young ones along
when you have your teeth cleaned or when their
older siblings have their teeth cleaned. This
way, they can get familiar with the office before
their own visit and hopefully overcome any anxiety
they may have.
Short Term Braces
Dr. Van Sluyters is excited to announce the
incorporation of SHORT TERM ORTHOdontics into
his practice. No longer do you have to suffer
with crooked, spaced, or overlapped front teeth.
Misaligned teeth can also cause difficulty with
cleaning and possible gum disease. This revolutionary
orthodontic procedure involves gently moving
the front teeth into a more ideal and cosmetic
alignment, all within about 6 months. The process
involves wearing clear braces for about 6 months,
with monthly office visits for adjustments and
progress checks. Ask the Doctor if this treatment
is right for you!