Staying on top of your dental health by actively participating in preventive dental treatment is the easiest and most effective way of keeping dental problems at bay, and preventing little dental problems from becoming big dental problems. Maintaining your oral health with regular dental visits is the best way to stay aware of what’s happening in your mouth and catch problems early on.
You probably already know that brushing and flossing routinely is imperative. It is your first line of defense in helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease. But a great hygiene routine at home does not eliminate the need for regular cleanings and check-ups at the dentist.
The following is a list of treatments that we utilize at the St. Peters dental office of J. Kevin McGraw, DDS to promote your oral health and keep your smile bright and beautiful.
X-rays of your teeth serve as a powerful diagnostic tool to help us make informed recommendations regarding your dental care. They enable our dentists to detect damage and potential disease not visible during regular oral exams. For children, X-rays help us check on the growth and development of the teeth and jaw.
Modern dental x-rays emit less radiation and provide instant images on computer screens for our doctors (and patients!) to review. Modern x-ray technology also avoids the use of special chemicals for developing x-rays, which makes this process more environmentally friendly.
Most people should have their teeth cleaned twice each year. You may require more frequent dental cleanings if you deposit heavy plaque on your teeth or suffer from periodontal (gum) disease.
At St. Peters Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, your teeth will be cleaned by Dental Hygienists who have completed an extensive academic program in Dental Hygiene and have passed rigorous written and clinical exams in order to become Registered Dental Hygienists.
When you visit our office for an initial or routine cleaning, a dental hygienist will use specialized tools to remove plaque and tarter from the surfaces of your teeth and between your teeth. Following this, your teeth will be polished to remove any surface stains resulting from drinking coffee or tea.
Your dental hygienist will also measure the amount of space that exists between the top of your gums and where your gums attach to your teeth as a diagnostic tool to determine if you have any evidence of periodontal (gum) disease. This is an important part of the dental hygiene appointment because periodontal disease ultimately leads to tooth loss.
The final step is flossing to verify that the spaces between your teeth are thoroughly clean. We will send you home with a home care kit which contains a new toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
Fluoride is a powerful weapon when it comes to preventing tooth decay, and we offer fluoride treatments for children and adults to help keep their teeth healthy and cavity-free. How does fluoride help? Fluoride helps prevent plaque and tarter buildup from penetrating the enamel of the teeth. Fluoride can also be used to restore mineralization of teeth, which helps reverse early decay.
We often recommend sealants for children. A dental sealant is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth in order to create a thin film that fills in all the small naturally occurring pits and fissures on the chewing surface, which helps protect teeth from decay by eliminating the small spaces where food particles can get caught.
We offer custom made oral appliances for patients who have a tendency to clench their jaws and grind their teeth together during sleep. Many patients are unaware that they are clenching and grinding but may awaken with soreness in the jaw area. Wearing a custom fitted night guard is important because it serves to protect your teeth from injury caused by the pressure of the grinding and also protects existing dental restorations such as crowns from damage.
If you have been awakened in the middle of the night by someone asking you to “stop snoring!” we can help make your life easier (and that of those around you as well) by custom fitting you with a snore guard. This guard holds the lower jaw in a more forward position, which opens the airway which decreases or eliminates snoring. It is important to note that snoring occasionally indicates a more serious condition known as sleep apnea.
If you know that you snore heavily or have been told that you do, please ask one of our doctors to evaluate you in order to determine what the correct course of therapy might be for you.
Sleep Apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder because during apneic episodes, the patient stops breathing for a short period of time. Patients who have sleep apnea should be evaluated by a sleep physician and have a sleep study performed to determine the severity of the condition. The use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device may be prescribed for you. These devices work well for many patients to get the quality sleep they need. However, sometimes patients complain that the CPAP device is too cumbersome and uncomfortable and actually interferes with sleep. And, some patients complain of feelings of claustrophobia when using a CPAP device. In these cases, custom-fitted oral appliances, which are similar to mouth guards worn for sports activities, may be part of a successful therapy program for sleep apnea.
If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, talk to one of our doctors who will help you understand your treatment options, including the possibility of making a custom-fitted appliance to help you get the rest you need.