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The fear of having discomfort during dental procedures is of great concern to most patients and is shared by almost everyone who has ever gone to the dentist. All of our doctors are trained in methods to help make your visit as comfortable as possible. Many dental procedures are so easy that no anesthetic is necessary, but if it is needed, a topical anesthetic will first be applied to your gum or cheek to begin the process of numbing before the actual injection is started. Your doctor is dedicated to giving you the proper type and dose of anesthetic to produce the numbness in your teeth and gums which will allow the dental procedure to be accomplished with the greatest of comfort for you. After many dental procedures, your doctor may prescribe pain medication to help keep you comfortable after the anesthetic has worn off. If you are still concerned, please inform your doctor during your consultation so that you may discuss other options before treatment is started.

Before you enter the treatment room our staff has prepared it for you. Any surfaces which can be touched are either wiped down with a disinfectant solution or are covered with a disposable wrapper. Many of our instruments are single-use only and are discarded after each patient. The metal instruments and dental handpieces are steam-sterilized in a machine called an autoclave which is designed to kill all bacteria, viruses, and spores. The autoclave is continually checked for efficacy and monitored by the University of Texas Health Science Center. Your doctor, dental assistant, and dental hygienist will all wear disposable gloves and masks when performing dental procedures and are seriously concerned about ensuring your safety while under their care.

Gum disease or periodontal disease is responsible for causing the loss of most teeth in adults. Most of the time, during the early stages of gum disease, there are no symptoms to warn you that something is wrong. Only a dentist is trained and qualified in diagnosing this problem and can recommend treatment which can significantly reduce the possibility of losing teeth due to gum disease. It is the duty and responsibility of the doctor to examine you periodically for signs of gum disease and other dental problems. Cleaning your teeth may range from something as simple as a polishing to remove superficial stains to a Soft Tissue Management program accomplished over several appointments to remove accumulations of calculus (tartar) and restore the gums to good health.

Your mouth is warm, moist, and supplied with plenty of nutrients—making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If these germs are allowed to stay around the teeth undisturbed, they will multiply to form huge colonies called plaque. The plaque is sticky and cannot be rinsed away. The bacteria make acids as waste products which can dissolve the outer enamel coating of the teeth causing cavities and can irritate the gums causing gingivitis. This can also lead to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. You may first notice this by the odor of your breath or by seeing that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or even when you just eat. Good oral hygiene involves removing the bacterial plaque from the teeth every day through brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist and dental hygienist for a professional cleaning every six months or more often if necessary. Bleeding gums are the signal to you that you need to see a dentist before the problem worsens, and the loss of teeth becomes possible. Breath odors can usually be controlled through good oral hygiene, but may also come from other sources, such as diet and medications. If you are concerned, see your dentist first.

Each tooth, with the possible exception of the wisdom teeth, is important because it performs many functions. It works with the opposing tooth to grind food into smaller particles that can be swallowed and digested easily. It also acts to keep the other teeth in their proper spot so they too can grind the food. If one tooth is removed and not replaced, the surrounding teeth, both upper and lower, can begin to shift. After this has happened, it is more likely the other teeth will begin to have more problems, such as decay or gum disease. While dentistry has advanced over the years, no artificial tooth, whether a bridge, a partial, or an implant, will ever be quite as perfect as your own tooth. You may need root canal therapy to save your tooth, but it is well worth the effort.

If your tooth is so badly damaged that the decay has reached the nerve inside the tooth, it is too late to save it with just a simple filling or crown. You may notice this by having a toothache or swelling. The nerve is infected by the decay bacteria and will need to be removed from inside the tooth. That is what root canal therapy is. The first step is to control the infection with antibiotics, if necessary, to reduce the swelling or toothache. Then the tooth is anesthetized, and the contents of the nerve chamber or root canal are cleaned out of the tooth, which removes the source of the infection. Once this is done, the root canal is filled to seal it from leakage, and the tooth is ready for a final restoration, such as a crown. Most root canal therapy can be accomplished in one or two visits and is usually comfortable for the patient. Your doctor can explain the procedure in more detail to you at your consultation appointment.

The simple answer is to give you more teeth to chew with. The more teeth you have, the better you should be able to grind the food into smaller particles. The other benefits are to prevent the drifting of the remaining teeth and to restore your appearance. Consult with your dentist to determine which type of replacement teeth are best for your situation.

Every patient has different needs and desires. Only the dentist can determine a patient's dental needs after a thorough examination. Therefore, we must wait to quote a fee until after the doctor has seen the patient. At Southern Dental, we are very concerned about the cost of treatment, and we do not want to quote the wrong fee which could lead to a misunderstanding at the dental office.

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