General Dentistry

Our General Dentistry services include preventative care and routine appointments for checkups and teeth cleaning. This is the foundation of our practice and your path to better dental and overall personal health.

Your first appointment at Southern Dental Associates will include a private consultation with your dentist. This is a great time to express any concerns, questions, or expectations.

All routine examinations include a thorough look at everything involving not only your oral health but even other health issues, as well. In addition to checking your teeth, we will also be searching for any signs of oral or skin cancers, TMJ issues, lymph node swelling or tenderness, and tissue and bone health. With early detection as a primary objective, most treatment can be provided with less time, expense, and discomfort than if problems are left to progress further than necessary.

Explore the following links to learn more about specific treatments within our General Dentistry services:

  • Bridges
  • Crowns
  • Dental Implants
  • Dentures
  • Extractions
  • Periodontal Treatment
  • Professional Cleanings
  • TMJ Therapy
  • Tooth Colored Fillings
  • Digital Scans
  • 3D Imaging

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are usually prescribed when one or more teeth are missing and there are healthy teeth on both sides of the open space. Teeth may be lost due to accident, injury, or gum disease. We can create a permanent bridge to restore your smile. A bridge fills the gap due to missing teeth and also prevents the re-positioning of remaining teeth. It can correct a misaligned bite, improve chewing function and speech articulation, and provide internal structure for the face to help improve your overall appearance.

What is Bridgework?

First of all, a bridge is a prosthetic tooth (or teeth) that attaches on one or both sides to teeth prepared with dental crowns. A fixed bridge is permanently joined onto the neighboring abutment teeth (crowned teeth) and consists of three basic units: the false tooth or teeth (called a pontic) and two abutment crowns.

The style of bridge we suggest will depend upon the strength and health of the abutment teeth, as well as the location of the gap in relation to the rest of your dentition. If healthy adjacent abutment teeth aren’t available, a surgically-implanted metal post, known as a dental implant, may offer a solid alternative. For a bridge that replaces many teeth, we may recommend a removable partial denture or implant-supported prosthesis. With proper care, a fixed bridge may last at least 8 to 10 years.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are usually prescribed when a tooth becomes too damaged or decayed to be restored by fillings. A crown can return structure, strength, and function to a tooth with extensive decay or damage. Designed to fit snugly and function as a healthy tooth, a crown will protect your tooth from further damage and preserve the jaw’s correct natural alignment.

Options for Dental Crowns

We use precious metal, porcelain pressed (or fused) to metal, or all-porcelain crowns. To maintain a fully white smile, we recommend all-ceramic crowns. Our precise color-matching system allows us to find the right shade of porcelain to blend with your natural tooth color. Porcelain crowns are also extremely durable and long lasting, and these benefits make them popular with dentists as well as patients.

Typically, we can design, fit, and place your crowns in just a couple of short appointments. Once a crown is placed, you can care for it as you do your natural teeth. Conscientious brushing twice a day and daily flossing will protect the base of your crown from bacterial growth. Be sure to see us at least two times each year for professional cleanings and a preventive exam, too.

Dental Implants for Tooth Replacement

Dental implants are a common treatment when there is a need for full tooth replacement due to periodontal disease, injury, or other reasons. Implants differ from traditional bridgework because implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Implants may also be used in conjunction with bridges to create the necessary support structure.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are small, metal posts that your implant dentist will surgically position into your jawbone. Made of biocompatible titanium, dental implants allow the bone to fuse with the posts, creating a permanent replacement for missing teeth.

Before our implant dentists can begin therapy, we will evaluate your teeth and gums to make sure you have enough bone structure to support the dental implants. Then, Dr. Liner or Dr. Ward will perform the implant surgery. Once your mouth heals and the bone firmly attaches to the posts, your doctor will position permanent crowns on the dental implants. After implant therapy, our patients can once again enjoy their favorite foods and smile with confidence.

Dentures and Partial Dentures

Dentures and partial dentures are prescribed in order to replace natural teeth that are missing and are designed to have the look and feel of natural teeth. They are made to closely resemble your natural teeth and can improve your dental health as well as revive supporting tissue.

You will need either complete or partial dentures, depending on how many teeth you have lost. Complete dentures substitute for all the teeth on your upper or lower jaw, while partial dentures are used when some original teeth remain. A partial denture will fill in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevent other teeth from moving.

Getting Fitted for Dentures

To ensure the best fit, Dr. Liner or Dr. Ward will take detailed impressions and measurements for the technicians who will create your custom dentures. When you return, the dentist can check for proper color, shape, and fit. At the last visit, your doctor will adjust and place the completed denture to produce a natural, comfortable smile. Some patients experience soreness, increased saliva, and speech or chewing difficulty, but these issues will subside as your mouth adjusts to the dentures.

Why do I need Tooth Extraction?

Patients suffering from broken, cracked, and/or excessively decayed or damaged teeth (teeth that aren’t good candidates for the alternative treatment such as a root canal) will benefit from the often simple and straightforward procedure of tooth extraction. We may recommend extractions, also called exodontias, in these situations:
  • When wisdom teeth, or third molars, emerge as non-functional, and/or misaligned.
  • If a candidate for dentures only has a few worn or compromised remaining teeth on an arch, we may recommend extractions so a full denture can be placed.
  • Patients, often younger children, may have impacted teeth positioned to emerge out of alignment, or teeth that block others from erupting.
  • Orthodontic patients with overcrowded mouths that require more space along the jawline to properly align the teeth.
What Can I Expect for this Procedure?

You will need either complete or partial dentures, depending on how many teeth you have lost. Complete dentures substitute for all the teeth on your upper or lower jaw, while partial dentures are used when some original teeth remain. A partial denture will fill in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevent other teeth from moving.

The day of your extraction, we anesthetize the area and carefully rock the tooth back and forth to expand the socket and loosen the ligaments. You will feel pressure, but should be “numb” to any real discomfort. For post-extraction care and to protect the blood clot that will form in the empty tooth socket, we advise patients to avoid rinsing, spitting, sucking through straws, hot foods, cigarettes or alcohol during the first 24 hours. If alveolar osteitis, dry socket, occurs, we will recommend an immediate course of action.

Recovery

You should also adhere to a liquid diet during the first day and use clean gauze, or even tea bags, to pack the wound. Remember, a small amount of bleeding is normal and ice and acetaminophen will help with the swelling and discomfort.

After 24 hours, you’ll begin a regimen of gentle, salt water rinses and resume your normal oral hygiene routine, taking care to avoid the empty socket and the adjacent teeth. Within two weeks, you can expect to feel significantly better.

Many patients who have extractions performed benefit from dental implants or mini dental implants paired with crowns to rebuild the tooth, so ask us about this prosthetic option.

The Truth About Gum Disease

The most common disease in the United States is not what you may think. Heart disease, stroke, or cancer come to mind, but actually gum disease is the single most prevalent disease in America. In fact, it affects more people than heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cancer combined. About 80% of the population has some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis (advanced), and gingivitis (mild).

What is Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support teeth, and it usually starts early in life, then progresses as a person ages. It all starts when plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus) below the gum line. This irritates vulnerable soft tissues and infection can set in. Combined with decaying food particles lodged between teeth and bacteria emitted by plaque, the infection can spread quickly. Symptoms are so mild in the early phase, many patients don’t recognize them: red, tender, swollen gums, bleeding when brushing teeth.

As the condition progresses, gums recede from teeth and pockets of bacteria form. The bacteria can destroy gum tissue and bone, causing tooth and bone loss.

Why is Gum Disease so Serious?

Recent research reveals that gum disease is linked to increased risk for major overall health problems, including but not limited to stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, diabetes complications, low birth weight, and most recently, dementia. Because of these findings, research continues. We may learn much more in the next few years.

It makes perfect sense, though – gum disease linked to overall health problems. Everything that enters or is present in the mouth has access to the whole body. The mouth is like a portal to the body. That’s why regular checkups and hygiene visits are vital to not only oral health, but also overall health.

Is Gum Disease Curable?

Unfortunately, gum disease is not curable. However, we can detect early warning signs of gum disease at your regular dental checkups. At this stage, prevention might be as simple as changing your brushing technique, improving your flossing routine, or changing the products you use for oral care at home.

Once gum disease sets in, we can often treat it with non-surgical therapy including:

  • Scaling – to remove hardened plaque from below the gum line
  • Root Planing – to reduce rough areas on teeth roots
  • Antibiotic Therapy – to battle infection
  • Laser Treatment – to remove bacteria and promote gum reattachment
  • Surgery – advanced cases may require the care of a periodontist, in which case we will refer you to a trusted colleague

Expect to attend more frequent hygiene visits so that a dentist or hygienist can monitor your condition and make sure that recovery is on track.

What is Laser Treatmet for Gum Disease?

Combined with comprehensive periodontal therapy, a diode laser for soft tissue procedures can remove and reduce some periodontal infection. This type of treatment also promotes reattachment of gum tissue to teeth. Laser dentistry is precise and conservative in comparison to traditional therapies. Some patients do not even need anesthesia during laser therapy.

Professional Dental Hygiene

We can’t over-emphasize the importance of routine professional cleanings for your teeth and gums. Not only can we prevent conditions like gingivitis and tooth decay, we can also detect potential issues and advise on how you can change your dental hygiene habits to better care for your teeth. Routine teeth cleanings are a benefit for your dental and overall health.

Who Needs Routine Teeth Cleanings?

Everyone over the age of four or five (for our younger patients, visit our page on Pediatric Dentistry) should visit the dentist for a professional hygiene appointment twice per year. Our gentle hygienists will inspect your gums for periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss for American adults. The hygienists are specially trained to detect, deter, and treat gum disease. We prefer to help you maintain optimal oral health so that you never have to worry about gum disease. However, if you develop periodontal problems, we’re here to help you.

If we find cause for concern, we may recommend that you change your oral healthcare routine or the products you use at home. We may also suggest a deep cleaning, which involves:

  • Scaling to remove tartar from below the gum line
  • Root planing to smooth rough root surfaces where plaque builds up
  • Arestin antibiotic treatment to kill bacterial infection
  • Orthodontic patients with overcrowded mouths that require more space along the jawline to properly align the teeth.

What is TMJ?

Did you know that an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ dysfunction? If you live with the painful symptoms of TMJ, including headaches, neck pain, clicking or popping of the jaw, and tingling in the extremities, we can give you the relief you need to lead a productive lifestyle. Problems with the TMJ, or jaw joints, arise when these joints become misaligned, often from stress, injury, or change in your bite. When this happens, the related muscles and nerves get agitated, and you experience discomfort.

How Can Our Dentists Help?

We will perform a full evaluation to determine the cause of your TMJ dysfunction. Once we have identified the problem, we can correct underlying issues and protect your smile from further damage. Therapy may involve fitting you for an oral appliance to keep your bite in the best position, strengthening exercises, relaxation techniques to reduce stress, and over-the-counter analgesics to relieve pain.

What are Composite Resins?

Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, are probably the most popular type of restoration material available today, due to their more natural look. This material tends to be more easy to manipulate, plus they are insoluble, insensitive to dehydration, and are fairly inexpensive when compared to other materials.

Advantages of Composite Resins for Fillings

Dental composite resins offer a number of advantages over traditional silver fillings. In addition to the properties already mentioned, the tooth/composite bond actually supports the remaining tooth structure, keeping more of this structure intact than amalgams. This is a benefit because we believe that the more natural tooth structure you keep, the better teeth you’ll likely have in the future.

What are Digital Scans?

Digital scans are digital versions of the more traditional imprint of your teeth using putty. Our team uses a high-quality iTero® Element™ Intraoral Scanner to perform digital scanning. Rather than deal with messy and uncomfortable putty in your mouth, we have the tools to get an accurate impression of your teeth via the 3D digital scan.

Advantages of Digital Scanning

Compared to traditional methods, a 3D digital scanning using the Intraoral technology is both both faster and more accurate, meaning your crowns, bridges, retainers, etc. will fit better and be more comfortable for you. Digital scans will take the place of uncomfortable putty in your mouth for too long while the doctor tries to get an accurate impression.

Digital scanning is also ideal for the Invisalign® clear aligners that we offer. Your overall experience should be simple, smooth, and comfortable. 

What is 3D Imaging?

The use of 3D imaging allows for accurate, detailed, and clear 3D images of your teeth. Using the Planmeca ProMax® 3D Max, a state-of-the-art 3D imaging machine, our doctors can have access to the best imaging available, meaning our services our more thorough than ever.

This new technological development gives imaging not only of your teeth, but also of the bones and soft tissues around them. Because of this, we can gives diagnosis based on the state of your teeth in relation to the rest of your mouth. 

Advantages of 3D Imaging

The 3D imaging devices used here at Southern Dental Associates provide a thorough and accurate 3D outcome, which allows our doctors to give you and your family a proper diagnosis and treatment for any dental issues that may arise. 

The Planmeca ProMax® 3D Max offers all volume sizes, ranging from specialized cases to whole-skull images. 3D imaging has come a long way, and with our use of the latest technology, you can rest assured that you are getting the very best dental care from us.

Some advantages of 3D imaging include:

  • Thorough and accurate 3D scan
  • More detailed diagnosis
  • Imaging for various volume sizes
  • Whole-skull images when necessary
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Be sure to contact Southern Dental Associates in Advance, Lewisville, or Wilkesboro, NC to schedule an appointment today.