Dental care involves caring for your gums, tongue, and teeth and is vital to avoiding tooth decay, plaque, tartar, and gum disease. Irrespective of your age, dental care plays a significant role in keeping your teeth and mouth healthy. With healthy and strong teeth, you can eat a wide range of foods, have a more aesthetic smile, and uphold your overall well-being. However, only a few naturally have an elegant and beautiful set of gums, teeth, or fresh breath. Below are some of the dental care practices South Coast Dentistry uses to preserve and promote oral health. Our Aliso Viejo dentists integrate quality patient care with state-of-the-art technology and can treat patients of all ages in a relaxed and comfortable setting.

Defining Dental Care

Dental health is your mouth’s overall health, including your tongue, gums, and teeth. Your oral health is an essential part of your general health and well-being. Poor oral health can result in gum disease and cavities and has been linked to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, maintaining healthy dental care is a lifelong commitment to avoid expensive dental procedures and chronic diseases.

Generally, dental health care can be classified into different categories, including:

  • Preventative dental care.
  • Cosmetic dentistry.
  • Restorative dental care.

Preventive Dental Care

As the name suggests, preventive dental care helps you avoid oral health issues and maintain healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

Most oral health conditions are caused by plaque (an invisible film of bacteria) that sticks to your gums and teeth after you consume sugar and use it to produce acid. The acid attacks the enamel and gums over time and can harden into tartar. You can remove tartar and plaque by visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene at home.

  • Oral Examinations

A dental examination is part of a checkup of your gums and teeth. During a dental examination, the hygienist cleans your teeth before examining them. At specific visits, your dentist might perform diagnostic imaging.

The dental X-rays reveal hidden gum disease, cavities, and jaw bone loss, among other oral problems your eyes cannot see. Here is what to expect during a dental examination:

  1. First, the dentist will examine your gums and teeth.
  2. Second, they will check your bite (how your bottom and top teeth fit together). They could refer you to an orthodontist if you have a bite issue.
  3. Finally, the dentist will check you for oral cancer. It involves feeling and looking for unusual lumps in your mouth, tongue, and lips. The dentist can also check your neck and face.
  • Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning involves:

  1. Scaling — Your hygienist will use tiny metallic equipment to scrape tartar and plaque from your teeth.
  2. Next, they will polish your teeth using a tool similar to an electric toothbrush with a rubber tip. The polishing is done using a specific paste that is gritty.
  3. Finally, the dental expert will floss your teeth.

The hygienist can apply a dental sealant, foam, or fluoride gel to your teeth if necessary. Fluoride, as a mineral, prevents cavities (tooth decay). Sealants are coatings applied on the molars and premolar chewing surfaces of the patient’s rear teeth. They are commonly used in teens and children.

  • Home Care Education

Preventative dental care also includes your dentist offering extensive home care education. Your dentist will provide a simple but effective home care routine for you and your family, like:

  1. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily.
  2. Flossing once daily.
  3. Brushing your tongue.
  4. Using an antibacterial mouthwash daily.
  5. Eating a balanced diet.
  6. Visiting your dentist regularly.
  7. Avoiding tobacco products and smoking.
  • Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist during a routine dental visit to search for cancer or precancerous signs in the mouth.

Oral cancer has a five-year survival rate of fifty-seven percent. Over half of oral cancer patients live five years after detection. Oral cancer is not hard to diagnose. Fatality rates are high because it is often diagnosed late after development. Oral cancer screening is the best method available for treatment and diagnosis.

Your dentist could use a variety of methods, like:

  1. Visual exam — The dentist searches for lesions in your throat and mouth. The abnormalities can include erythroplakia and leukoplakia.
  2. Palpation — Your dentist will use their fingers to feel bumps and lumps around your jaw, neck, and face. Be sure to inform them of any tender or sore areas.
  3. Screening dye — The healthcare provider will coat lesions with dye to identify areas that can become cancerous.
  4. Screening light — The dentist will use a special light to recognize abnormal tissues in the mouth.

Restorative Dental Care

Even with proper oral health care, you could still require restorative treatment. Restorative dental care is any procedure that repairs your gums and teeth. These dental issues vary in severity, from minor cavities to periodontitis to missing and loose teeth.

When your teeth hurt or you notice an oral issue, consult your dentist immediately. Depending on the condition, the dentist can fix your problem with a restorative treatment like:

  • Dental Fillings

A dental filling is a single piece or combination of glass, plastic, metal, or other materials used to restore or repair teeth. The most popular fillings used is to fill a tooth area that the dentist removed due to decay. Your doctor can also use filings to repair broken or cracked teeth and teeth that have worn out due to misuse, like tooth grinding.

Dental filling materials include composite resin, silver amalgam, gold, and porcelain.

The steps involved in the dental filling procedure include the following:

  1. First, the dentist will numb the area surrounding the tooth to be treated using a local anesthetic. Next, they will use an air abrasion tool or drill to remove your decayed area. Your choice of equipment depends on the doctor's training, comfort level, and the degree and location of the decay.
  2. Then the physician will test or probe the area when removing the decay to determine whether they have removed it before cleaning the cavity of debris and bacteria.
  3. Next, they will apply the filling in layers and use a special light to cure or harden them. Once the multilayering process is complete, the dentist will shape your filing material to your desired outcome, trim off excess material, and polish the final restoration.
  • Root Canal

Dentists perform root canals when the pulp (inner part of your tooth) becomes infected, inflamed, or injured. Removing the infected or injured pulp preserves the tooth’s structure.

Typical causes of tooth damage to the pulp include the following:

  1. Tooth decay.
  2. An injury to your tooth.
  3. Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth.
  4. A crack or chip in your tooth.
  • How Root Canal is Performed

The dentist performs the procedure in their dental office. When you arrive for your dentist appointment, the technician will lead you to a treatment room, ensuring you are comfortably seated in a chair.

  1. Administering anesthetic — Your dentist will inject a local anesthetic into the gums. You could feel a burning sensation or a sharp pinch that will pass quickly. You will be alert during the root canal, but the anesthetic will prevent you from experiencing pain.
  2. Removing your pulp — Once the tooth is numb, your dental care provider will make a tiny opening in the top of your tooth. After exposing the damaged or infected pulp, the endodontist will use files to remove it.
  3. Cleaning your pulp — Next, the dentist will clean your tooth’s pathways. They will also cover the area with an antibiotic to avoid reinfection. After your tooth canals are cleaned and disinfected, your physician will fill the opening in your tooth’s top with a temporary material. The sealant prevents saliva from damaging your canals.
  4. It would help to visit your general dentist a few days after the procedure. They will perform diagnostic imaging to ensure no infections in your treated tooth. Additionally, they will replace your temporary filing with a permanent filing.

Your dentist can place a permanent crown on your tooth if you desire. Crowns are artificial teeth of gold or porcelain that enhance your tooth’s appearance.

  • Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is an artificial tooth (pontic) held firmly in place by teeth next to the gap. The pontic is crafted from cast metal or a combination of metal and porcelain.

Dental bridges close the gap between one or two missing teeth. A bridge consists of at least two crowns for the teeth on both sides of the gap, with an artificial tooth in between. The anchoring tooth or teeth are referred to as abutment teeth.

Notable benefits of dental bridges include the following:

  1. Reinstate your smile.
  2. Assist you in chewing properly.
  3. Preserve your face’s shape.
  4. Replacing missing teeth enables you to distribute the pressure in your bite evenly.
  5. Stop your remaining teeth from drifting.

Bridges are available in three types, namely:

  1. A traditional bridge consists of a single dental crown held in place to the nearby teeth using a fake tooth in between. Thus, dental crowns act as crown points, with the phony replacement filling the gap.
  2. Cantilever bridges — They vary in structure compared to traditional bridges. They are used less frequently and are often placed at the front. Dentists do not recommend using cantilever bridges at the mouth's back because they can apply much pressure on a tooth.
  3. Maryland bridge — This type uses a structure similar to a traditional dental bridge. However, it uses a framework metal or porcelain as an alternative instead of dental crowns as anchors. This framework eliminates the condition for alterations to adjacent teeth and is held in place at the back of the mouth. Maryland bridges are a more affordable substitute for traditional bridges.
  • Dental Dentures

Dental dentures are portable oral gadgets that replace lost teeth. Dental specialists make dentures using resin, acrylic, porcelain, nylon, and metal.

There are two types of dentures:

  1. Partial denture — It replaces the gaps left by lost or missing teeth. The denture can be fastened with metal clasps (precision attachments) to your natural teeth.
  2. Complete denture — It provides support to your cheeks and lips. The support helps avoid sagging facial muscles, making a person appear much older and find it harder to eat and speak properly.

Dentures are perfectly fitted and designed to fit comfortably, encompassing your gums. Your dental care provider will take measurements and record your mouth’s impressions before ordering your dentures from a dental specialist.

Dentures require the constant practice of good oral hygiene. Failure to maintain denture cleanliness can affect your oral and overall health. It would be best to clean them daily using a toothbrush and an effective mild denture cleaner.

  • Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the aesthetics and appearance of your smile and teeth. You can consider cosmetic dentistry if you have the following:

  1. Cracked or chipped teeth.
  2. Small spaces or gaps between your teeth.
  3. Tooth staining and discoloration.
  4. Misaligned teeth.
  5. Misshapen teeth.

Any person with healthy gums and teeth can pursue cosmetic dental procedures. However, if you have gum disease or cavities, your dentist will first address the condition.

Some of the procedures your dentist can use to create a more symmetrical, balanced, and aesthetically elegant smile include the following:

Teeth Whitening

Over time, dark-colored beverages, foods, smoking, and medications stain teeth. Professional teeth whitening can safely and drastically lighten your teeth’s shade and improve your smile.

Most dentists offer at-home and in-office teeth whitening. In-office whitening takes approximately an hour, while at-home whitening takes weeks.

The general dentist will remove tartar and plaque, among other debris, from every tooth’s surface before using a bleaching agent to achieve a lighter shade. 

Dental Bonding

The dental procedure involves applying tooth-colored composite resin to:

  1. Hide cracks or chips in your teeth.
  2. Camouflage teeth discoloration.
  3. Close spaces and gaps between teeth.
  4. Make your teeth look longer.
  5. Change your teeth’s shape.

Unlike porcelain veneers, bonding is reversible because it does not involve the removal of much enamel from your natural teeth.

Typically, dental bonding can last up to seven years.

Dental Veneers

Veneers are coverings that are fitted on the front surface of your teeth. Dentists use high-quality dental materials, like porcelain or tooth-colored composite, to create them.

Any patient can use veneers to:

  1. Repair broken or chipped teeth.
  2. Repair spaces and gaps.
  3. Remove stains that do not improve with teeth whitening.
  4. Teeth that are too tiny.
  5. Misshapen teeth.

Please note that veneers are ideal if you are free of extensive gum disease and cavities. If you have severe oral health conditions, you should address them before exploring veneers.

During your second dental office visit, the dentist will check your veneers’ fit, color, and shape before permanently bonding them in place with dental cement. They will also check your bite and make the necessary adjustments.

Inlays and Onlays

Your dentist will place the inlay directly on your tooth surface, as long as your tooth cusps are not damaged. Nevertheless, if a significant part of your tooth is ruined, the dentist can use an onlay to cover its entire surface.

Dental Implants

Dental implants serve as replacements for missing tooth roots. They are screw-like metal devices that provide a strong foundation for fake teeth like crowns, dentures, and bridges.

When an individual has a missing tooth due to injury or ailment, they can develop complications like bone loss, speech deficiency, or a change in chewing habits that lead to discomfort. Having dental implants placed in your jawbone can improve your health and greatly enrich your life experience.

Dental implants comprise the dental abutment and body and can sometimes include a fixation screw for the abutment. The implant body is fixed surgically into your jawbone, replacing the lost tooth’s root. A dental implant body is generally fixed to the abutment using a fixation screw running through the gums, holding the artificial tooth steady.

Before settling on dental implants, ask your dentist about the benefits and risks involved and if you qualify for the implant. Other considerations before getting implants include the following:

  1. Your general health (It is vital in determining your suitability for artificial teeth, the recovery duration, and the implant’s durability).
  2. Ask your physician what model and brand implant system best suits you, and store the details for your medical history.
  3. Smoking can delay your recovery process and affect the success rate of the implant.

The healing cycle for the implant body can occur after a couple of months. During that period, you will have a temporary abutment instead of the tooth.

While dental implants can last a lifetime for many patients and can remain effective when correctly cared for and fabricated. Different ways to increase your implants’ longevity include the following:

  1. Practicing good oral hygiene as instructed by your dentist.
  2. Scheduling regular appointments with your physician for professional advice.
  3. Informing your dental care provider immediately if the implant seems detached or painful.

While dental implants can enhance the patient’s life and health significantly, complications sometimes occur after the procedure or later on. Most complications are due to implant failure (also known as implant loss), which requires corrective surgery to change the implant system.

Find a Compassionate Aliso Viejo Dentist Near Me

Your teeth are an essential part of your body. If you possess a healthy set of teeth, you will appear beautiful and boost your confidence when speaking and smiling. Also, healthy teeth and optimal dental care contribute significantly to your overall health. People often suffer from dental health conditions due to poor hygiene, an unbalanced diet, and negligence, which can result in costly, painful, and complex corrective procedures. Caring for your teeth should be easy, provided you know what to do and have great professional care.

At South Coast Dentistry, we are committed to perfecting your smile and motivating and educating you to participate actively in dental care. We can offer restorative, preventive, and cosmetic services based on a sound clinical evaluation to boost your dental health. Please call us at 949-274-9086 to schedule a consultation in our Aliso Viejo dental office and learn how to restore your fully functional smile today.