Dental care is an important part of maintaining a healthy body and beautiful smile. Dr. Greg J Herd DDS and Associates take care to address the common concerns faced by our patients.
Decay is the most recognized dental problem, as many of us have at least one cavity in our lifetime. Tooth decay is actually a disease that can be transmitted due to the fact that it stems from living microorganisms that reside in the mouth. The two forms of bacteria that can cause decay are Lactobacillis and Streptococcus Mutans. As these bacteria sit on teeth, they feed on reﬁned sugar residue and produce an acidic byproduct which eats healthy enamel and dentin. Once decay has expanded to the deeper parts of the tooth or has caused infection, pain develops. Until this time, decay can go unnoticed without regular dental examinations.
The goal of your dental team is to provide preventive care and nutritional guidance to avoid the problem of decay. For those with a moderate to severe risk of dental caries, speciﬁc protocols are used.
Low risk: No cavities in three years.
Moderate risk: At least one risk factor or 1-2 cavities in three years.
Severe risk: 3 or more cavities in three years.
- Existing dental decay is removed.
- Resin restorations or sealants are applied to seal off deep grooves in molars, which is where 90% of decay occurs.
- Early decay treated with ﬂuoride varnish, a solution that remineralizes teeth. Fluoride has been proven effective at minimizing the development of new cavities in those with a history of tooth decay (Executive Summary of Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendation, The ADA Council of Scientiﬁc Affairs, May 2006) Level of Evidence is 1a (highest possible).
- Prescribed oral rinse.
Many of the oral rinses sold commercial are acidic in their composition. Since an acidic oral environment is one in which decay is more likely, it seems logical to use a non-acidic rinse. One of the few on the market is the Restore oral rinse.
- Adjunctive therapy
- Clinpro toothpaste
- Gum or mints containing xylitol are recommended to stimulate the ﬂow of saliva, which buffers the effects of acid in the mouth. (J. of Evidence Based Dent Pract 2007;7:120-2) Level of Evidence 2b
- Management of low salivary ﬂow with oral rinse such as Biotene or Restore.
- Dental exams at six-month intervals
- Fluoride varnish as needed (3,4, or six months)
- Home ﬂuoride rinse
- Instruction and reinforcement for oral hygiene practices
Dental Hygiene & Gum Disease
Of the various reasons tooth loss may occur, gum disease is most prevalent. Due to the quiet nature of gum disease, this problem can be overlooked, leading to extensive damage that causes instability in teeth, inﬂammation, bone loss, and, eventually, the loss of a tooth or teeth.
Risk factors for gum disease include:
Facts you need to know about gum disease:
- You are not at fault for gum disease! We do not pass judgment on patients with gum disease. Our job is to resolve this problem using proven, evidence based protocols.
- The advancement of gum disease (as well as the destruction of bone) takes place throughout several episodes throughout life, starting and stopping periodically.
- Arterial plaque and inﬂamed gums reside on the same meridians, and one is linked to the other.
- Bleeding gums in those at risk of gum disease is a sign of active infection.
- No bleeding in those at risk of gum disease is a sign of inactivity.
- Our goal is to put a stop to bleeding gums!
Gum disease is treated with personalized care by Dr.Greg J Herd DDS and his team of USC trained Dental Hygienists. Dental Hygienists are licensed oral health professionals specializing in prevention and treatment of periodontal disease and tooth decay, as well as protection of the patient’s overall health. By providing essential preventive dental care, Dental Hygienists make it possible for Dentists to focus on other complex and specialized dental procedures.
At the heart of treatment is oral hygiene, which we demonstrate for proper, effective technique. Dental visits for patients with gum disease are also increased for better monitoring.
There are four categories of gum disease:
Gingivitis (gum tissue inﬂammation)
AAP type 1 – 4mm or less periodontal pockets around teeth
AAP type 2 – Inﬂamed gum tissues, 4-6mm periodontal pockets, bone loss of 2mm or less
AAP type 3 – 5-8mm periodontal pockets with up to 4mm bone loss
AAP type 4 – 6mm or larger periodontal pockets with bone loss of more than 4mm. Treatment
AAP type 1 – prophylactic treatment at six-month intervals
AAP type 2 – scaling and root planning and periodontal maintenance every 3-4 months
AAP type 3 – scaling and root planning and periodontal maintenance every 3 months combined with adjunctive therapy and, if needed, referral to periodontist
AAP type 4 – scaling and root planning and periodontal maintenance every 3 months combined with adjunctive therapy and referral to periodontist.
Dental technology has improved the way dentists practice their craft. Thanks to science, modern techniques allow patients to receive dental treatment without
the pain and time associated with old-fashioned dentistry. Dental technology is even being developed to make dental X-rays safer and more convenient.
While dental X-rays emit low amounts of radiation and every precaution is taken to protect patients from exposure, some dental patients may still put off dental Xrays for safety reasons. Dental X-rays bring up other issues for patients, including the wait time for film to be developed and environmental concerns. Dentists are addressing these issues with digital radiography, a high-tech replacement for traditional dental X-rays.
Lights! Digital Camera! Action!
The physical process for digital radiography is actually similar to traditional dental X-rays that use film: With digital radiography, your dentist inserts a sensor into your mouth to capture images of your teeth — but that’s where the similarities between conventional and digital dental X-rays end. Although it resembles the film used for bitewings and other X-rays, the digital sensor is electronic and connected to a computer. Once the X-ray is taken, the image is projected on a screen for your dentist to view.
There are several benefits to using digital radiography over traditional film X-rays:
Less Radiation — The equipment used in digital radiography exposes dental patients to much less radiation. In fact, digital X-rays use up to 90 percent less radiation than film X-rays. While conventional dental X-rays are relatively safe, digital radiography is an excellent option for those who take X-rays on a regular basis or for those who are concerned about radiation.
Shorter Dental Appointments — Digital radiography can also shorten your dental appointment! With traditional dental X-rays, you’ll have to wait while your dentist develops the film. With digital radiography, the sensor develops the picture almost instantly and projects it onto a computer screen right before your eyes.
Higher Quality Images — The standard size of traditional X-rays can make viewing difficult, but digital radiography has done away with the “one size fits all” mentality. Once on the screen, digital X-rays can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of the tooth’s structure. Brightness, contrast and color can also be adjusted, allowing your dentist to see small cavities easier. If you need a hard copy of your X-ray, digital images can also be printed out.
Transferring Dental Records — Digital images can be e-mailed to a dental specialist for immediate review. Digital X-rays are taking away the expense and time needed to copy files and mail them to another dentist, making it easier to transfer dental records or get a second opinion. As more offices are turning to electronic patient charts, computers may eliminate the need to mail dental records altogether.
Environmentally Friendly — Digital dental X-rays are better for the environment! With digital radiography, no chemicals are used to develop film. There’s also no wasted space of a darkroom and no need to store film, which can pile up in a dentist’s files.
The Complete Picture
While digital radiography is helping many dentists diagnose your dental problems, additional software programs are making their lives even easier! One such program is called subtraction radiography, wherein dentists compare current images to previous images of the same tooth, helping them find even the smallest changes in your tooth’s structure.
Digital radiography is slowly gaining steam in the professional dental community. With the expense of digital radiography equipment, digital X-rays are an investment that the majority of our dental practices have yet to make. Currently, approximately 30 percent of all dental offices are using digital radiography. It’s estimated that by 2010 more than half of all dental offices will have this dental technology.
No matter what type of X-rays you choose, dental X-rays are important part of your regular dental visits. Dental X-rays are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye.