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Dr. Michael Montgomery
Irene Sandoval – Office Manager
Princess Abigail Opare – Registered Dental Nurse
Gillian Joy Calimpon – Registered Dental Hygienist
Angie Williams – RDH MPA
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The Best in Los Angeles Medicine
Hours of Operation
  • MON 8:00am-5:00pm
  • TUE 8:00am-5:00pm
  • WED 2:30pm-8:00pm
  • THU 8:00am-5:00pm
  • FRI 10:00am-1:00pm
Dr. Montgomery's Team

Our Services

Whether you need a complete exam and cleaning, a full-mouth restoration, or anything in between, we promise you exceptional care as we enhance the natural beauty of your smile. Below are some of the many procedures and services we regularly provide to our patients. Your smile is our first priority, and the stunning results will give you Great Smiles for Life!Please contact us today for an appointment or if you have questions. We look forward to providing you with the best dental care you deserve.

Click on a procedure to see details, or view all

Dental Exam:

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by Dr. Montgomery at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your appointment will include the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Cleanings:

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are performed by our Registered Dental Hygienists. Teeth cleaning removes tartar (mineralized plaque) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult to reach in routine toothbrushing. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling and tooth polishing and debridement if too much tartar has accumulated. This involves the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.

Digital X-Rays:

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays and is what is used in Dr. Montgomery’s office. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer, which can be instantly viewed and enlarged to help easily detect problems. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, and diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible by the naked eye during a dental exam. This information is used to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected and untreated, resulting in more serious damage to your teeth and gums. Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, we still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.

The frequency for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Dr. Montgomery will recommend necessary x-rays based upon your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients and consists of a panoramic x-ray plus 4 bite-wing x-rays or 18 individual films. A full series is usually good for five to seven years unless undergoing orthodontic treatment or periodontal therapy. Bite-wing or check-up x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at cleaning visits and are recommended every two years to detect new dental problems. However, Dr. Montgomery may recommend single x-rays at any time based on visual abnormalities or abnormal sensations.

Cosmetic Dentistry:

Having healthy and beautiful teeth enhances our appearance and allows us to smile with confidence. Thanks to the advances in modern cosmetic dentistry, we are able to improve your smile with quick, painless, and surprisingly affordable treatments.Cosmetic dental treatments can:

  • Change the size, shape, and alignment of certain teeth.
  • Fill in unattractive spaces between teeth.
  • Improve or correct bites.
  • Lighten or brighten the color of teeth.
  • Repair decayed, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth.
  • Replace missing teeth.
  • Replace old, unattractive dental treatments.

Remember, your smile speaks before you even say a word!

Fillings:

A composite filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth will be removed and then filled with a composite filling. Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colors allowing near invisible restoration of teeth. Composites are glued into teeth and this strengthens the tooth’s structure. The discovery of acid etching (producing enamel irregularities ranging from 5-30 micrometers in depth) of teeth to allow a micromechanical bond to the tooth allows good adhesion of the restoration to the tooth. This means that unlike silver filling there is no need for the dentist to create retentive features destroying healthy tooth. The acid-etch adhesion prevents micro leakage; however, all white fillings will eventually leak slightly. Very high bond strengths to tooth structure, both enamel and dentin, can be achieved with the current generation of dentin bonding agents. Dr. Montgomery can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth. Composite fillings, along with silver amalgam fillings, are the most widely used today. Because composite fillings are tooth colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth.

Composite fillings are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay as necessary. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. The composite filling will then be precisely placed, shaped, and polished, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.

Crowns:

crown is a type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth.[1] They are typically bonded to the tooth using a dental cement. Crowns can be made from many materials, which are usually fabricated using indirect methods. Crowns are often used to improve the strength or appearance of teeth.  Porcelain crowns are made to match the shape, size, and color or your teeth giving you a natural, long-lasting beautiful smile.

A crown procedure usually requires two appointments. First, a dental impression of a prepared tooth is made to fabricate the crown outside of the mouth. The crown can then be inserted at a subsequent dental appointment. Using this indirect method of tooth restoration allows use of strong restorative materials requiring time consuming fabrication methods requiring intense heat, such as casting metal or firing porcelain which would not be possible to complete inside the mouth. A mold will also be used to create a temporary crown which will stay on your tooth for approximately two weeks until your new crown is fabricated by a dental laboratory.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the surface to properly fit the crown. Once these details are accomplished, your temporary crown will be placed with temporary cement and your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.

At your second appointment your temporary crown will be removed, the tooth will be cleaned, and your new crown will be carefully placed to ensure the spacing and bite are accurate.

You will be given care instructions and encouraged to have regular dental visits to check your new crown.

Bridge Work:

also known as a fixed partial denture, is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.

Types of bridges may vary, depending upon how they are fabricated and the way they anchor to the adjacent teeth. Conventionally, bridges are made using the indirect method of restoration. However, bridges can be fabricated directly in the mouth using such materials ascomposite resin.

A bridge is fabricated by reducing the teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth by a preparation pattern determined by the location of the teeth and by the material from which the bridge is fabricated. In other words, the abutment teeth are reduced in size to accommodate the material to be used to restore the size and shape of the original teeth in a correct alignment and contact with the opposing teeth. The dimensions of the bridge are defined by Ante’s Law: “The root surface area of the abutment teeth has to equal or surpass that of the teeth being replaced with pontics“.[1]

The materials used for the bridges include goldporcelain fused to metal, or in the correct situation porcelain alone. The amount and type of reduction done to the abutment teeth varies slightly with the different materials used. The recipient of such a bridge must be careful to clean well under this prosthesis.

Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years, however they may need replacement or need to be re-cemented due to normal wear.

Veneers:

are a very thin layer of restorative material placed over a tooth surface, either to improve the aesthetics of a tooth, or to protect a damaged tooth surface. There are two main types of material used to fabricate a veneer, composite and dental porcelain. A composite veneer may be directly placed (built-up in the mouth), or indirectly fabricated by a dental technician in a dental laboratory, and later bonded to the tooth, typically using a resin cement such as Panavia. In contrast, a porcelain veneer may only be indirectly fabricated.

Getting veneers usually requires two visits to complete the process, with little or no anesthesia required during the procedure. The teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. A mold or impression of the teeth is taken and a shade (color) will then be chosen by you and Dr. Montgomery.

On the second visit the teeth will be cleansed with special liquids to achieve a durable bond. Bonding cement is then placed between the tooth and veneer and a special light beam is used to harden and set the bond.

You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers.

Whitening:

There are different options to whiten one’s teeth that include: in-office bleaching, which is applied by a professional dentist; at-home bleaching, which is to be used at home by the patient. There are two main methods of gel bleaching—one performed with high-concentration gel, and another with low-concentration agents. High-concentration bleaching can be accomplished either in the dental office, or at home. Performing the procedure at home is accomplished using high-concentration carbamide peroxide, which is readily available online or in dental stores and is much more cost-effective than the in-office procedure. Whitening is performed by applying a high concentration of oxidizing agent to the teeth with thin plastic trays for a short period of time, which produces quick results. The application trays ideally should be well-fitted to retain the bleaching gel, ensuring even and full tooth exposure to the gel. Trays will typically stay on the teeth for about 15–20 minutes. Trays are then removed and the procedure is repeated up to two more times. Most in-office bleaching procedures use a light-cured protective layer that is carefully painted on the gums and papilla (the tips of the gums between the teeth) to reduce the risk of chemical burns to the soft tissues. The bleaching agent is either carbamide peroxide, which breaks down in the mouth to form hydrogen peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide itself. The bleaching gel typically contains between 10% and 44% carbamide peroxide, which is roughly equivalent to a 3% to 16% hydrogen peroxide concentration.

The ADA recommends to have one’s teeth checked by a dentist before undergoing any whitening method. The dentist should examine the patient thoroughly: take a health and dental history (including allergies and sensitivities), observe hard and soft tissues, placement and conditions of restorations, and sometimes x-rays to determine the nature and depth of possible irregularities.

Dental Implants:

dental implant is a “root” device, usually made of titanium,  to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth to replace missing teeth.

Virtually all dental implants placed today are root-form endosseous implants, i.e., they appear similar to an actual tooth root (and thus possess a “root-form”) and are placed within the bone (endo- being the Greek prefix for “in” and osseous referring to “bone”). The bone of the jaw accepts and osseointegrates with the titanium post. Osseointegration refers to the fusion of the implant surface with the surrounding bone. Dental implants will fuse with bone, however they lack the periodontal ligament, so they will feel slightly different than natural teeth during chewing.

Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.

Dental implants can be used to support a number of dental prostheses, including crownsimplant-supported bridges or dentures. They can also be used as anchorage for orthodontic tooth movement. The use of dental implants permits undirectional tooth movement without reciprocal action. The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months.

Dentures and Partial Dentures:

are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental implants. There are two main categories of dentures, depending on whether they are used to replace missing teeth on the mandibular arch or the maxillary arch.

Removable partial dentures are for patients who are missing some of their teeth on a particular arch. Fixed partial dentures, also known as “crown and bridge”, are made from crowns that are fitted on the remaining teeth to act as abutments and pontics made from materials to resemble the missing teeth. Fixed bridges are more expensive than removable appliances but are more stable.

Complete dentures or full dentures are worn by patients who are missing all of the teeth in a single arch (i.e. the maxillary (upper) or mandibular (lower) arch).

Dentures are very durable appliances and will last many years, but may have to be remade, repaired, or readjusted due to normal wear.

The process of getting dentures requires several appointments, usually over several weeks. Highly accurate impressions (molds) and measurements are taken and used to create your custom denture. Several “try-in” appointments may be necessary to ensure proper shape, color, and fit. At the final appointment, your dentist will precisely adjust and place the completed denture, ensuring a natural and comfortable fit.

It is normal to experience increased saliva flow, some soreness, and possible speech and chewing difficulty, however this will subside as your muscles and tissues get used to the new dentures.

Sleep Apnea:

is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.[1] Similarly, each abnormally low breathing event is called a hypopnea. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or “sleep study”.
There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive) constituting 0.4%, 84% and 15% of cases respectively.[2] In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort; in OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common.
Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening.[3] Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae). Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance.

Root Canal:

is a sequence of treatment for the pulp of a tooth which results in the elimination of infection and protection of the decontaminated tooth from future microbial invasion. This set of procedures is commonly referred to as a “root canal.” Root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the physical hollows within a tooth that are naturally inhabited by nerve tissueblood vessels and other cellular entities.Endodontic therapy involves the removal of these structures, the subsequent cleaning, shaping, and decontamination of the hollows with tiny files and irrigating solutions, and the obturation (filling) of the decontaminated canals with an inert filling such as gutta percha and typically a eugenol-based cement.

After endodontic surgery the tooth will be “dead,” and if an infection is spread at apex, root end surgery is required.

What does root canal therapy involve?

In the situation that a tooth is considered so threatened (because of decay, cracking, etc.) that future infection is considered likely or inevitable, a pulpectomy, removal of the pulp tissue, is advisable to prevent such infection. Usually, some inflammation and/or infection is already present within or below the tooth. To cure the infection and save the tooth, the dentist drills into the pulp chamber and removes the infected pulp and then drills the nerve out of the root canal(s) with long needle-shaped drills. After this is done, the dentist fills each of the root canals and the chamber with an inert material and seals up the opening. This procedure is known as root canal therapy. With the removal of nerves and blood supply from the tooth, it is best that the tooth be fitted with a crown which increases the prognosis of the tooth by six times.

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery:

is surgery to correct a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. It is an internationally recognized surgical specialty. One of 9 dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA), an Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon  is a regional specialist surgeon treating the entire craniomaxillofacial complexanatomical area of the mouthjawsfaceskull, as well as associated structures.

Bone Grafting:

is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in order to repair bone fractures that are extremely complex, pose a significant health risk to the patient, or fail to heal properly.

Bone generally has the ability to regenerate completely but requires a very small fracture space or some sort of scaffold to do so. Bone grafts may be autologous (bone harvested from the patient’s own body, often from the iliac crest), allograft (cadaveric bone usually obtained from a bone bank), or synthetic (often made of hydroxyapatite or other naturally occurring and biocompatible substances) with similar mechanical properties to bone. Most bone grafts are expected to be reabsorbed and replaced as the natural bone heals over a few months’ time.

Bone grafting is often closely associated with dental restorations such as bridge work and dental implants. In the majority of cases, the success of a restoration procedure can hinge on the height, depth, and width of the jawbone at the implant site. When the jawbone has receded or sustained significant damage, the implant(s) cannot be supported on this unstable foundation and bone grafting is usually recommended for the ensuing restoration.

Bone grafting is a highly successful procedure in most cases. It is also a preferable alternative to having missing teeth, diseased teeth, or tooth deformities. Bone grafting can increase the height or width of the jawbone and fill in voids and defects in the bone.

Periodontal (Gum) Disease:

Periodontitis is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, i.e., the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequentloss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms that adhere to and grow on the tooth’s surfaces, along with an overly aggressiveimmune response against these microorganisms. A diagnosis of periodontitis is established by inspecting the soft gum tissues around the teeth with a probe (i.e. a clinical exam) and by evaluating the patient’s x-ray films (i.e. a radiographic exam), to determine the amount of bone loss around the teeth.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Gingivitis (“inflammation of the gum tissue“) is a term used to describe non-destructive periodontal disease. The most common form of gingivitis is in response to bacterial biofilms (also called plaque) adherent to tooth surfaces, termed plaque-induced gingivitis, and is the most common form of periodontal disease. In the absence of treatment, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which is a destructive form of periodontal disease.

There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone. A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.

Extractions:

Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone.If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there’s too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. This is the most common reason for extracting a tooth.

Here are other reasons:

  • Some people have extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in.
  • People getting braces may need teeth extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place.
  • People receiving radiation to the head and neck may need to have teeth in the field of radiation extracted.
  • People receiving cancer drugs may develop infected teeth. These drugs weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infection. Infected teeth may need to be extracted.
  • People receiving an organ transplant may need some teeth extracted if the teeth could become sources of infection after the transplant. People with organ transplants have a high risk of infection because they must take drugs that decrease or suppress the immune system.
  • Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are often extracted either before or after they come in. They commonly come in during the late teens or early 20s. These teeth often get stuck in the jaw (impacted) and do not come in. They need to be removed if they are decayed or cause pain. Some wisdom teeth are blocked by other teeth or may not have enough room to come in completely. This can irritate the gum, causing pain and swelling. In this case, the tooth must be removed.

There are two types of extractions:

Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth, usually under local anaesthetic, and require only the use of instruments to elevate and/or grasp the visible portion of the tooth. Typically the tooth is lifted using an elevator, and using dental forceps, rocked back and forth until the Periodontal ligament has been sufficiently broken and the supporting alveolar bone has been adequately widened to make the tooth loose enough to remove. Typically, when teeth are removed with forceps, slow, steady pressure is applied with controlled force.

Surgical extractions involve the removal of teeth that cannot be easily accessed, either because they have broken under the gum line or because they have not erupted fully. Surgical extractions almost always require an incision. In a surgical extraction the doctor may elevate the soft tissues covering the tooth and bone and may also remove some of the overlying and/or surrounding jawbone tissue with a drill orosteotome. Frequently, the tooth may be split into multiple pieces to facilitate its removal. Surgical extractions are usually performed under a general anaesthetic.

Inlays/Onlays:

Inlays and onlays are a conservative and traditional method of restoring teeth and are also known as indirect fillings. When the biting surface of the tooth is damaged and regular fillings are not adequate, inlays and onlays are used to fill crevices or repair extensive damage.

The difference between dental fillings and inlays and onlays is that dental fillings are directly done on the spot: they are placed in the tooth during your visit to the dentist, on the other hand, inlays and onlays have to be made in a dental laboratory; these are then subsequently fitted and chemically bonded to the damaged tooth by the dentist. Hence the name: Indirect fillings. Sometimes, inlays and onlays are used in place of full dental coverage crowns. As compared to full dental coverage crowns, they are better fitting, last longer, and look better.

Difference between inlays and onlays:

When the material is bonded within the center of the tooth, it is called an inlay. If the damage is more widespread and the new structure covers the whole chewing surface including one or more tooth cusps, the procedure is called an onlay.

Benefits of using inlays and onlays:

Inlays and onlays are methods of repairing comparatively wide-ranging tooth decay or damage without really needing to replace the entire outer portion of the tooth as one would need to do with a crown. The amount of tooth material required to be removed is less, so inlays and onlays tend to be more conservative and esthetic as compared crowns.

The inlay and onlay procedures strengthen a tooth’s structure as compared to fillings where the structure may be weakened due to removing too much tooth material. Inlays and onlays are also likely to last longer than a regular filling, because the inlay or onlay material is custom made and bonded or fused to the tooth.

They offer a superior fit as compared to crowns, as the procedure tends to preserve as much of the healthy tooth as possible. This also safeguards the structure of the basic tooth and does not weaken it further and this in turn offers strength and stability to the teeth. An onlay can actually protect the weak areas of the tooth as the procedure does not require the complete reshaping of the tooth.

Esthetically, tooth color is retained offering better visual appeal, because inlays or onlays will not discolor as resin fillings usually do. Due to the fact that inlays and onlays are custom made and they fit better and do not shrink or change size during the curing process, this makes it a lot easier for you to clean or brush your teeth. Inlays seal the tooth better as compared to regular fillings and thus they keep out bacteria ensuring that there is no further decay taking place inside the tooth, under the filling.

Procedure used for Inlays and Onlays:

An inlay or onlay procedure may require two or three dental visits to complete.
In the first visit, the dentist makes a mold of your teeth in your mouth. This gives the dentist a basic structure to work from. A temporary sealant is placed on your damaged tooth. The mold is then sent to the laboratory where the technician will proceed to make an inlay or outlay as advised by the dentist, depending upon the extent of damage. The material to be used for the inlay or onlay is also selected in this visit.

The material selected to make the inlay or onlay depends on many factors such as the location and visibility of the tooth- if the tooth is situated at the back of the mouth and will not be visible when you smile or speak, then gold may be recommended as the material to be used, as this is long lasting, offers better protection and is smooth causing less abrasion to the opposing tooth. Whereas if you require an inlay or onlay for your front teeth, or teeth that will be exposed when you smile or speak then porcelain will be recommended as the best material as this can be made and colored to match your existing healthy teeth and will thus blend in better. If are a person who habitually grinds your teeth or have a very strong bite or chew heavily, or if you have malocclusion where your jaw is misaligned, then resin could be the best material for you. The dentist will help you make your best choice.

In the second visit, sometimes a temporary inlay or onlay could be fitted, if the final inlay or onlay is not yet ready. The final fitting would require a third visit. If the final inlay or onlay is ready, this will be fitted in the second visit. The temporary sealant will first be removed. When fitting the inlay or onlay the dentist will ensure that the restoration fits perfectly with all adjacent teeth, that there are no problems with malocclusion that might affect the fit of the inlay or onlay. When the inlay or onlay is fitted, it will be bonded to the tooth and then polished.

Sealants:

Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then ‘painted’ onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

Children and teenagers are obvious candidates, but adults can benefit from sealants as well. Ask your dentist about whether sealants can put extra power behind your prevention program.

TMJ / TMD:

Two joints and several jaw muscles make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak or swallow. They include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone–the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints called the temporomandibular joints or “TMJ.”

Many adults suffer from chronic facial pain. Some common symptoms include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, or headaches and neck pain.

The TM joints are among the most complex joints in the body. Located on each side of the head, they work together to make many different movements, including a combination of rotating and gliding actions used when chewing and speaking.

Several muscles also help open and close the mouth. They control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward, and side-to-side. Both TM joints are involved in these movements. Each TM joint has a disc between the ball and socket (see diagram). The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.

Diagnosis & Treatment

A dentist can help identify the source of the pain with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays. Often, the pain may be from a sinus problem, a toothache or an early stage of periodontal disease. But for some types of pain, the cause is not easily diagnosed. The pain may be related to the facial muscles, the jaw or the TM joint.

Some TM problems result from arthritis, dislocation or injury. All of these conditions can cause pain and dysfunction. Muscles that move the joints are also subject to injury and disease. Injuries to the jaw, head or neck, and diseases such as arthritis, might cause some TM problems. Other factors relating to the way the upper and lower teeth fit together (the bite) may cause some types of TM disorders. Stress and teeth grinding are also considered as possible factors.

Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Part of the dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Your complete medical history may be reviewed, so it’s important to keep your dental office records up-to-date. Your dentist may take x-rays and may make a “cast” of your teeth to see how the upper and lower teeth fit together. Your dentist may also request specialized x-rays for the TM joints. Depending on the diagnosis, the dentist may refer you to a physician or another dentist.

There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. They may include stress-reducing exercises, wearing a mouth protector to prevent teeth grinding, orthodontic treatment, medication or surgery. Treatment may involve a series of steps beginning with the most conservative options. In many cases, only minor, relatively non-invasive treatment may be needed to help reduce the pain.

Bonding:

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied and hardened with a special light, which ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth to restore or improve person’s smile.