Common Procedures

Topics on this page

Regular Exams and Cleanings | Bonding | Bridges | Crowns | Extractions | Fillings | Implant Restoration | Fluoride | Mouthguards | Nightguards | Root Canals | Sealants | Veneers | Wisdom Teeth


exams and cleanings

Regular Exams and Cleanings

Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During this visit, we will:

  • Check for any problems you may not see or feel
  • Look for cavities or other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
  • Do an oral, head and neck cancer screening
  • Review proper home care
  • Provide a fluoride treatment to help prevent tooth decay

Your regular exam and cleaning appointment takes about 45 minutes to one hour. At each appointment our registered dental hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and remove all plaque, calculus, debris, and stains. She will polish your teeth for a very smooth surface. She will also look for any irregularities and relate her findings to Dr. Levin, who will do the final examination.  

Visiting our office every six months gives you the ability to keep your mouth as healthy and beautiful as possible and the chance to ask Dr. Levin any questions you may have about your oral health. Regular examinations/cleanings are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your next appointment.

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Bonding

bonding

Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. A tooth color dental restorative material called composite resin is bonded directly onto your teeth to improve its appearance. Because it comes in many tooth-color shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.

Bonded composite resin can also be used for tooth fillings instead of amalgam. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because this material is much less noticeable than the silver amalgam. Bonded fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth breakdown.

Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonded composite resin can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments, such as ceramic veneers (more commonly known as porcelain veneers). SEE CERAMIC VENEERS BELOW.

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Bridges

bridges

A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face and restore form, function, and aesthetics. 

A bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth are missing. Your bridge can be made from ceramics, gold, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto adjacent teeth for support.

The success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the adjacent teeth, gums and bone. Therefore, it is very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaws healthy and strong.

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Crowns

fillings

Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve your tooth’s shape or strengthen and protect it. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, have fractures, are badly worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay. 

A crown or “cap” usually covers a tooth completely to the gum line. It is cemented onto the remaining healthy tooth. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of ceramics, porcelain, metal, or a combination of materials. Ceramic crowns are most often preferred because of their strength and natural aesthetics.

Crowns or onlays (partial crowns) are needed when there is insufficient tooth structure to hold a filling. Unlike fillings, which apply the restorative material directly into your tooth, a crown is fabricated at a dental laboratory. Your tooth is prepared, and impressions are taken and sent to the lab. Dr. Levin will construct a temporary crown and cement it over your now healthy tooth.

A dental ceramist will fabricate your crown using CAD/CAM technology (COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN/COMPUTER AIDED MILLING). At your next visit Dr. Levin will try-in, fit, adjust, polish, and cement your new crown. He will check your bite and make sure your jaw movements function normally. 

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Extractions

There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth.

A baby tooth may have misshapen roots or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. A tooth may be so badly decayed that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk, so Dr. Levin may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge or implant. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.

When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, Dr. Levin may choose to extract it himself or he may refer you to an oral surgeon.  The root of each tooth is encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, Dr. Levin must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with us any concerns or preferences for sedation.

Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing, adjacent structures or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, Dr. Levin may recommend that you replace the extracted tooth.

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Fillings

crowns

Traditional dental restorative materials (or fillings) may include silver fillings (amalgams), gold or porcelain. Newer dental fillings include ceramics and composite resin that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. The composite resins are typically used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important.

There are two different kinds of fillings: direct and indirect. Direct fillings are placed into a prepared cavity in a single visit. Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. These fillings include inlays, inlays and veneers fabricated from ceramics or composites.

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Implant Restorations

implants

If you are missing a tooth it is crucial to replace it. Without all your teeth chewing and eating can  be difficult  and can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing adjacent and opposing teeth will shift, the jaw bone can shrink and you may appear older. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth. If properly maintained, they can last a lifetime!

An implant is a replacement tooth made from synthetic materials (titanium and ceramics) that functions and appears like a natural tooth. It is composed of three parts. The implant is a titanium cylinder that is placed in the jaw bone. It integrates with the bone over a four to six month period. An implant abutment is screwed into the top of the implant and extends into the mouth and a ceramic crown is cemented on the abutment. With implant treatment, you can smile confidently, knowing no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth.

In addition to a single  tooth replacement, implants can replace several or all teeth and smay be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. For patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace these dentures so you have a more natural-looking smile without a mouthful of  metal bars and clasps.

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Fluoride

flourideFluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay. It also prevents plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in our office takes just a few minutes.

After the treatment, you may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months.

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Mouthguards

mouthguardWhether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect your teeth and gums from injury. If you participate in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that you wear a mouthguard.

Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from your dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent you from breathing properly.

Dr. Levin can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.

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Nightguards

nightguardIf you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you may have a common condition called “bruxism.” Many people do not even know they grind their teeth, because it often occurs during sleep. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.

There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by a dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.

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Root Canals

root canalsIn the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you’d probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called “root canal treatment,” your tooth can be saved. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth.

If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your jawbones, but it is also detrimental to your overall health.

Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, a general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems with the nerves of the teeth) removes the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite.

If your tooth has extensive decay, we may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect it from breaking. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.

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Sealants

sealantsSometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.

Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.

Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and Dr. Levin will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.

Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your sealants come off, let us know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.

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Veneers

veneersYou no longer need to hide your smile because of gaps, chips, stains, or misshapen teeth. With veneers, you can easily correct your teeth’s imperfections to help you have a more confident, beautiful smile. Veneers are natural in appearance, and a perfect option for patients who want to make minor adjustments to the look and feel of their smile.

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made from tooth-colored materials, such as porcelain. They are designed to cover the front side of your teeth. To prepare for veneers, Dr. Levin will create a unique model of your teeth. This model is sent to the dental technician to create your veneers. Before placing your new veneer, Dr. Levin may need to prepare your tooth conservatively to achieve the desired aesthetic result.

When the veneers are in place, you’ll be pleased to see that they look like your natural teeth. While veneers are stain resistant, we may recommend that you avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco to maintain the beauty of your new smile.

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Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teethWisdom teeth are molars found in the very back of your mouth. They usually appear in the late teens or early twenties, but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed.

If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, Dr. Levin first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and embedded in your jaw bone, he will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, Dr. Levin will often “section” your wisdom tooth so each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone.

Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Dr. Levin will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.