Q) What does a cleaning include?
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… and safe?
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%.
Q) Are 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.
Q) What are Veneers?
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 them.
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 teeth.
Q) What 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.
Q) What 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.
Q) At 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!