Importance of Dental Check-Up and Types of Dental Procedures

All of us are well aware of the importance of regular oral health care. But sometimes, no matter how well you take care of your teeth and gums, you get a cavity or tooth decay once in a while. Most of the times, people think that the only possible treatment for any dental problem is tooth filling. However, several dental procedures are specialized to treat each dental issue with quality and care.

Some of the standard dental procedures involve root canal treatments, cosmetic dental procedures, orthodontic procedures, tooth removal, gum surgery, and tooth filling. Routine dental check-ups act as check-gates to evaluate the oral health of a person. During this visit, the dentist examines your mouth thoroughly to identify the dental issues.

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Additionally, dental x-rays are used to get a closer look at the underlying infection that may be the prime cause of your dental condition. Knowledge about the types of dental procedures provides a broad perspective towards dentistry and helps you to have the perfect smile. Today’s article will highlight the importance of routine dental check-ups and the different types of dental procedures.

What is the importance of dental health check-ups?

Regular dental check-ups are crucial for prevention of disease in the mouth. Two dental check-ups per year can help you to stay updated with your oral health status. Moreover, a dental examination can also reveal some of the non-dental conditions such as –

  • Vitamin and iron deficiencies
  • Bone disorders
  • Systemic diseases like diabetes
  • Oral cancer and retroviral diseases

Children are more prone to tooth decay and cavity formation. Additionally, problems like malocclusion, poor dental hygiene, and fluoride requirement can be identified to provide total oral care to children. Most of the times, people overlook the benefits of dental check-ups; however, it is essential to know about the importance of dental check-ups. Usually, a dental visit consists of the following procedures –

Dental examination

A dentist takes a thorough medical and dental history of the patient to determine the current health status of the patient. Following this, a full mouth examination is done to identify dental issues. (1)

  • Teeth are checked for cavities, early carious lesions, tooth fracture, broken fillings or any other problem related to the teeth
  • Soft tissues like gums, tongue, oral mucosa, and lips are checked for ulcerations or any other oral lesion.
  • The functioning of the jaw and muscles is checked by asking the patient to open and close the mouth.
  • A general check on oral hygiene is done to educate the patient about oral health care practices.

Dental X-ray

Dental radiographs are a beneficial aid for the dentist as they provide a direct visual of the underlying infection or disease in detail. For example, dental x-rays can reveal the extent of tooth decay or cavity, signs of periodontal infection, presence of a cyst or bony tumors, and tooth impactions. (2) There are several types of dental x-rays that are used for accurate diagnosis; some of the general examples are as follows –

  • Panoramic x-rays – panoramic radiographs provide a complete view of the mouth, which includes the teeth, jaws, and temporomandibular joint. These x-rays are beneficial for first visit review and offer a broad spectrum of multiple dental issues of a patient. (3)
  • Periapical x-ray – these are one of the most common types of dental x-rays. Periapical radiographs provide a detailed view of multiple teeth in one specific area of the mouth. The prime function of these x-rays is to help detect any changes in the root and bone. Moreover, periapical radiographs give a clear picture of the extent of tooth decay, root fracture, and bone loss.
  • Bitewing – bitewings are usually done to identify tooth decay between the two teeth, loss of bone due to gum disease, fit of a dental crown and extent of broken tooth fillings. The unique quality of bitewings is that it captures teeth on both the arches on a single film.
  • Occlusal – occlusal radiographs provide an overview of the entire dental arch. Additionally, it helps to detect bony lesions like cysts and tumors of the jaw.
  • Cephalometric projections – cephalometrics are the best dental x-rays used for orthodontic analysis. Additionally, it also helps to identify the lateral skull or jaw fractures.
  • Cone-beam computed technology (CBCT) – CBCT is a modern-day imaging technique that captures several sections of the mouth to provide a detailed 3D view of the dental issue. It is commonly used as a diagnostic aid for implant placement, evaluation of cust and tumors, dental abnormalities, and gum disease.

What are the types of dental procedures performed at a dental office?

Tooth fillings

A tooth filling is generally done to restore a damaged tooth to its normal function and shape. The prime purpose of tooth filing is to eliminate the bacterial infection and prevent further progression of the disease. During this procedure, the dentist excavates the carious tooth surface and cleans the cavity. Following caries excavation, the cavity is prepared for bonding of the dental material.

Several factors are considered while choosing the type of material to fill the cavity. Some of the factors include the extent of repair, presence of allergy to specific material, aesthetics, and cost. Typically, there are five types of tooth fillings performed at a dental office –

  • Composite – composite resin is a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles. This dental material is an excellent product that matches the tooth color providing a natural look to the affected tooth. Most often, composite fillings are done on front teeth. Moreover, this material requires minimal cavity preparation and bonds efficiently to the tooth structure. (4)
  • Amalgam – amalgam filling consists of a mixture of metals like mercury and silver. This dental material gives a metallic look. Therefore, it is not suitable for filling of front teeth. Amalgam fillings are often used for back teeth. One of the significant benefits of this filling is its durability. Amalgam fillings are economical and last for ten years or longer.
  • Gold – just like amalgam, gold fillings are incredibly durable. Often gold fillings last longer than amalgam filings. However, it gives a metallic look to the tooth and is not aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, gold fillings are expensive and usually cost seven times more than an amalgam tooth filling.
  • Ceramic – these tooth-colored fillings are made from porcelain and give a natural look to the restored tooth. Additionally, ceramic fillings are more resistant to staining. However, ceramic fillings are brittle as compared to composite resin and cost more than gold fillings making it the most expensive choice of tooth filling.
  • Glass ionomer – glass ionomer is a mixture of acrylic and fluorosilicate glass. These fillings have s good bond strength and are a good choice of filling in people with multiple tooth decay that extends below the gum line. Additionally, glass ionomer fillings are primarily used for baby teeth. (5)

Now let’s look at the cost of the different tooth fillings mentioned above –

  • Composite – $135 – $240 per tooth
  • Amalgam – the range of amalgam filling varies from $50 -$150 for one to two teeth and $120 -$300 for more than to teeth.
  • Gold and ceramic– depending on the size of the cavity, the cost of gold and ceramic filling may vary from $250 -$4500
  • Glass ionomer – $10 – $100 per tooth

Root canal treatments

Root canal treatment is a procedure that is performed to remove the infected pulp tissue from the tooth root. Usually, it is performed for the following cases –

  • A cracked tooth that involves the pulp
  • Deep carious cavity with pulp exposure
  • Traumatic injury to the tooth

During a root canal procedure, the dentist drills the tooth to form an access route to the canals of the tooth root. It is followed by the removal of the damaged and dead pulp tissue. After that, the canals of the tooth root is cleaned and shaped properly. This process requires a minimum of two sitting with a time gap of 2-3 days between each sitting. (6)

In the final sitting, the canals are filled with medicament and dental material that seals off the root canal. Usually, a tapered, rubbery material called gutta-percha is used as the material of choice. Root canal treated tooth often require a crown placement to maintain the strength and integrity of the tooth. The cost of this procedure ranges from $900 – $1100 per tooth, excluding the charges for crown placement.

Teeth whitening

Tooth whitening is a procedure that lightens the teeth and helps to remove the stains or discolorations from the tooth surface. It is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures which provide a radiant smile. The process of tooth whitening requires accurate evaluation of the dental health status. Tooth decay, gum recession, and extensive cavities cannot be treated by tooth whitening. Moreover, the bleaching agent can irritate the dental tissue leading to further damage of the tooth.

The process begins with thorough tooth cleaning followed by application of the whitening agent. Typically there are two types of whitening procedures performed in a dental office –

  • Vital tooth whitening – in this, the gel is applied directly to the tooth surface and activated by a specialized laser light which allows the bleaching agent to react with the enamel. Vital tooth whitening takes around 30-90 minutes for a single sitting. A person may require one to three appointments to achieve the desired tooth color. (7)
  • Non-vital tooth whitening – in case of root canal treated teeth, it is difficult to change the color of the tooth. Therefore, non-vital tooth whitening is performed wherein the dentist places the whitening gel inside the tooth and covers it wit ha temporary filling. The tooth is left for several days and followed up for the change in color. The number of appointments depends on the desired shade. (8)

Typically, tooth whitening costs around $500 per session.

Tooth extractions

Tooth extraction is usually performed for teeth that are beyond repair, for example –

  • Badly broken teeth
  • Extensive tooth decay that cannot be treated with root canal therapy
  • Orthodontic tooth extractions
  • Tooth in the field of radiation for people receiving head and neck radiotherapy
  • Deeply infected tooth
  • Wisdom tooth removal
  • Persistent primary teeth that interfere with the growth of permanent teeth

Typically, a dentist evaluates the condition of the tooth with the help of a dental x-ray. A thorough medical and dental history is taken to assess the health status of the patient and determine any allergies to medications.

The area of concern is then anesthetized using a local anesthetic. The tooth is then loosened with the help of an elevator and extracted with dental forceps. After the tooth is removed, the dentist smoothens and recontours the underlying bone. (9)

It is essential to carefully follow the post-extraction instructions to avoid pain and further infection of the site. The dentist will place sterile gauze and ask you to bite on it for at least 30-45 minutes. For the next 24 hours, you should not spit, smoke, or touch the extraction site. Avoid spicy food and drinking beverages through a straw.

Usually, pain relievers are prescribed to soothe the pain after extraction. Follow up after a week to get your extraction site evaluated by the dentist. Typically, the cost of tooth extraction may range from $75 – $600 per tooth.

Cosmetic dental treatments

  • Bonding – Tooth bonding is usually performed to repair a chipped or cracked tooth. Additionally, tooth bonding helps to reduce gaps between the teeth. Composite resin is the material of choice which is applied on the tooth surface and cured by using a UV laser. The tooth is then shaped and polished to give a smooth and natural look. Bonding procedures typically cost around $300 – $600 per tooth.
  • Veneers – Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the tooth surface, specifically on the front teeth. Usually, this procedure is performed to repair chipped, decayed, or stained front teeth. The tooth is reduced in size to accommodate the veneer and is bonded with resin cement. Cost of veneers ranges from $925 -$2500 per tooth.
  • Crown – a crown is used to cover a decayed, broken or badly stained tooth. During this procedure, the tooth is reduced in size to accommodate the size of the crown. This process usually requires two sittings. There are several types of crowns which include metal crown, porcelain fused metal crowns, ceramic or zirconia crowns. The choice of the crown depends on the type of tooth, esthetic requirements, and patient’s approval. Usually, the cost of the dental crown ranges from $800 – $1700 per tooth.
  • Bridge or Implant – the purpose of a bridge or implants is to replace the missing tooth or teeth. A bridge consists of the false tooth that is anchored in place by the neighboring teeth while Implant consists of a titanium screw that is integrated into the bone followed by crown placement. (10) Cost of a three-unit bridge usually ranges from $2000 – $5000, while dental implants cost around $3000 – $4000.
  • Flexible denture – flexible dentures are an excellent dental appliance made of nylon. These dentures are used to replace multiple missing teeth. The best property of such dentures is that it firmly adapts to the gums and tissues. Moreover, it is comfortable to wear and provides a natural-looking smile. Typically, a flexible denture may cost around $700 – $ 1500.
  • Gum surgery – gum surgery is usually required to reverse the effect of gum and periodontal disease. Moreover, gum surgeries play a crucial role in cosmetic dentistry. Gingivectomy is a dental procedure which improves gummy smile while gum grafts are typically used to cure gum recessions. (11) Both these procedures are performed under local anesthesia. The cost of gingivectomy comes around $200 – $400 while gum grafts may cost between $500 – $1200 per tooth.

Orthodontic treatments

Dental problems like an irregular bite, malocclusion, crowding of the teeth, jaw misalignment, and joint disorders require orthodontic therapy. This treatment typically takes around one to two years to complete. (12) Orthodontic treatment is mainly concerned with the alignment of teeth using braces. There are several types of braces that a patient can choose from –

  • Metal braces which provide faster tooth movements
  • Ceramic braces which consist of tooth-colored brackets and wire to the appliance esthetically pleasing.
  • Invisalign or clear aligners which are supremely used to straighten the teeth. These are clear trays customized to the patient’s dental arch. It comes in a set of seven to twenty trays which have to be replaced every two weeks.

Cost of orthodontic braces varies depending on the type of appliance –

  • Metal braces cost around $3000 – $7000
  • Ceramic braces range between $4000 – $8000
  • Invisalign usually ranges from $4000 – $10,000

Overview of dental procedures

Dental procedures provide a wide range of options to fix any dental problem. Many people have a misconception that dentistry is limited to tooth filling, braces, and tooth removal procedures. However, several dental procedures are specifically designed to meet every dental need of a patient.

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Some of the standard dental procedures include tooth filling, root canal therapy, tooth removal, cosmetic dental procedures, and orthodontic treatments. It is essential to know the types of dental procedures performed at a dental office.  Moreover, it is crucial to follow up with regular dental check-ups to prevent disease progression.

Now that you are aware of the different kinds of dental procedures offered, you should be able to discuss the suitable treatment with your dentist.

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