COMMON PROCEDURES

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REGULAR EXAMS AND CLEANINGS

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

  • Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Perform a thorough teeth cleaning

Your regular exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, in which we will clean, polish, and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth's surface.

Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your next dental exam and teeth cleaning.

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Bonding

Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.

Tooth bonding can also be used for tooth fillings instead of silver amalgam. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than silver. Bonding fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.

Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments, such as porcelain veneers. If it does break or chip, tell your doctor. The bonding can generally be easily patched or repaired in one visit.

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Bridges

If you are missing teeth that negatively affect aesthetics or function, it is sometimes possible to replace these teeth with a fixed prosthesis (a bridge). The main benefit of a bridge is adding function and aesthetics. A bridge can also prevent teeth from drifting into crooked positions, which can cause difficulties in keeping areas in your mouth clean.

A bridge is supported by implants or the natural teeth that surround the space left by the lost tooth. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.

In some cases, a bridge can be completed in as little as two weeks if using natural teeth to support them. If implants are required, it can sometimes take three to six months for the implants to integrate with the bone. Regardless, regular maintenance (brushing, flossing, and regular visits to our Highlands Ranch dentist) is required to maximize the lifespan of a bridge.

Like all treatment done at our office, having a bridge done will be a concerted decision. Dr. Amy and Dr. Heath will always present you with all your options, and we will come to a treatment decision together based on your situation.

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Crowns in Highlands Ranch, CO

As prevention-oriented dentists, Dr. Heath and Dr. Amy always try to save as many natural teeth as possible. Crowns help us do just that! Crowns are used to increase the longevity of a tooth that has broken, is likely to break soon, or has cracked tooth syndrome. A crown can build back lost tooth structure to its original shape and structural integrity, hold together broken-down tooth structure that has caused cracking and tooth sensitivity, and even be used on top of an implant to replace an entire missing tooth!

At Copeland Family Dental, we tailor each crown to your individual smile and your existing teeth to get the best aesthetics possible. Your tooth is like your fingerprint and is very unique. Dr. Heath and Dr. Amy provide evidence-based dentistry and only use crown materials with the best track record for fit, aesthetics, and strength.

To ensure your needs are met with the best possible restoration, we use several types of crowns. These include porcelain fused to metal (PFM), porcelain fused to zirconia (PFZ), all ceramic crowns, and all gold crowns made by reputable labs. We work closely with our labs, often speaking directly with the specific lab tech who will make your crown.

Getting a crown at Copeland Family Dental requires two visits to our Highlands Ranch dental office. During your first visit, we will prepare your tooth and take an impression to send to the lab. You will leave with a temporary crown so your daily routine will not be interrupted. When your crown is complete, you’ll return to our office, where Dr. Heath or Dr. Amy will place your permanent crown and ensure its proper fit.

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Dentures

If all the teeth in an arch are missing, or if the remaining teeth are not strong enough to hold in a partial denture or bridges, then a full denture is a viable alternative. This prosthesis is fabricated in the lab using accurate impressions taken in the office. A complete denture can restore aesthetics, some function, and prevent opposing teeth from moving out of position. Although a very functional prostheses, dentures rely on natural suction to hold them on, so adhesives may be necessary to retain them in the mouth. Another disadvantage is that eating and speaking habits will have to be relearned due to the difference between dentures and natural teeth. The good news is that denture retention can be greatly increased with the help of dental implants.

If implants and bridges are not in the equation, an economical solution to restoring missing teeth is a partial denture. These can be fabricated from a flexible base material (more aesthetic, but weaker) or a metal framework with bonded acrylic (stronger, but potentially less aesthetic). Restoring function, aesthetics, and preventing tooth tipping are all advantages of the partial denture. However, weakening of abutment (anchor) teeth, difficulty in cleaning, and stability issues are major disadvantages.

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Extractions

There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen 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. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk of decay, so your doctor 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, your dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. 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, your dentist 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 your doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.

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

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Fillings

An amalgam is a silver colored filling composed of several metals (including silver, tin, zinc, and mercury). The advantage of the silver filling is that it is less expensive, faster, and easier to place, and longer lasting than composite (tooth colored fillings). The disadvantage is that some people find the silver color to be unaesthetic.

A composite is made of a tooth-colored filling composed of a plastic like material that is bonded directly to the tooth. The advantage of the composite filling is that a limited amount of the tooth has to be removed to place the filling. Another advantage is that it is matched to the exact color of your tooth. The disadvantages of composites are that they are more expensive than traditional silver fillings (due to higher cost of the materials), they take longer to place, and they do not last as long as silver fillings.

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Fluoride

Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients 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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Implants

In the case of missing teeth, the best and most reliable treatment is an implant. An implant is a titanium screw that mimics a natural tooth’s roots. The implant itself will be placed by specialists who have been adequately trained in this field. Once an implant has been placed, a fake tooth (abutment) and crown (cap) will be screwed into the implant. Sometimes this last step will occur several months after implant placement to allow the bone to heal around the implant. The advantages of implants are that it most closely mimics a natural tooth, adjacent teeth do not have to be prepared for a bridge, and other teeth in the mouth are not compromised by metal clasps required to stabilize partial dentures.

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Mouthguards

Whether 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. Your dentist 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

Many of us have the unfortunate condition known as night time bruxism (teeth grinding). Although no one knows exactly why we do this, stress does seem to increase the intensity. To prevent this grinding and decreasing the amount of wear to the teeth and bone disease, an acrylic night guard can be worn. If bruxism continues unchecked, severe wear of teeth, recession of gums, headaches, TMJ pain, and cracked teeth are likely to occur.

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Root Canals

Sometimes the nerve inside the tooth can become infected, inflamed, and sometimes die. If this is the case endodontic treatment (root canal) is necessary to prevent spread of infection and save the life of the tooth. This is done by making a tiny hole to access the root canal system of the tooth. After thoroughly cleansing the root canal system, it is sealed with a rubber material.

Although most root canals are successful and straightforward, referral to a specialist is sometimes required when treatment does not adequately remove the infection. Most endodontically treated teeth require the placement of a crown (cap). The advantages of root canal treatment are that it can prevent the removal of the tooth, eliminate infection, and eliminate tooth pain.

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Sealants

A sealant is a plastic material that is bonded into the naturally occurring deep grooves in the teeth. The material effectively seals off breeding grounds for bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. The advantage of sealants is that the most likely place to get a cavity in the mouth is sealed off from bacteria. The disadvantage of sealants is that if they are not checked every six months they can fracture and leak potentially leading to cavities.

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Veneers

In some cases, orthodontics (braces), teeth whitening, and bonding cannot eliminate all aesthetically unpleasing teeth. Porcelain veneers are hand crafted at the lab to perfectly fit you smile and bonded to the outside layer of the front of the tooth. Advantages of porcelain veneers are that they can greatly improve aesthetics and require very little removal of natural tooth structure. A disadvantage to veneers is that although they are very durable, they will probably have to be replaced in the future.

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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are types of 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 teeth's 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, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, your dentist 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, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that 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. Your dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.

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