A filling may be needed when a tooth develops a cavity, crack, or becomes worn down.
45+ minutes (depending on location, size, and number of fillings)
What to expect
To treat the area, your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill the area with a material to help restore and strengthen the tooth.
Composite resins, or “white” fillings, are the most common types of fillings done in dentistry today. Many dentists prefer the composite material over the traditional metal filling material. The composite fillings require less drilling to place, meaning more of the natural tooth is retained. The composite material bonds with the natural tooth, creating a strong, long-lasting surface. And since the color of a composite filling closely matches that of the natural tooth, there is no staining to the teeth or gums.
To place a filling, your dentist will first numb the area to be treated with a topical solution, then with an anesthetic. Once the area is thoroughly numb, your dentist will remove the decay from the tooth with a small drill, then use water, air, and suction to clean and dry the area. The composite material is then placed and dried with an ultraviolet light. Once the material has hardened, your dentist will shape the filling to fit your tooth and check to make sure you can bite comfortably.
The anesthetic (numbness) should wear off with 1-2 hours after your appointment.
You may feel some temperature sensitivity for a day or so following the placement of the filling; this should subside.
You shouldn’t feel anything different about your bite after the filling is placed. If you do, call the office and have your dentist re-shape the filling.
A crown, sometimes called a “cap”, is used when a tooth does not have enough healthy structure to be stable. This can happen when a tooth is cracked, or has a large chip or cavity, or after a root canal. Crowns can also be used to cover a badly shaped or discolored tooth, or a dental implant.
Two visits: 30-90 minutes for preparation (first visit); 30 minutes to place (second visit).
What to expect
Having a crown is usually a two-visit process: one to prepare the tooth, another to place the crown on the tooth.
THE FIRST VISIT: PREPARE THE TOOTH
To prepare the tooth for the crown the dentist will numb the area to be treated, and reduce the area of the tooth by drilling so that the crown can fit over it.
If the tooth is too small or unstable to support a crown a “build-up” of the tooth may be necessary. In this part of the procedure, your dentist will use a resin material to create more structure around the remaining portion of the tooth. This creates a foundation strong enough to support the crown and helps maintain the integrity of the tooth structure.
Next an impression is taken of the teeth and gums and sent to the lab where the crown is custom-made to specifically fit your mouth.
A temporary crown is placed and secured, and the dentist will check your bite to make sure it is comfortable.
The custom crown takes about two weeks to make. You can expect to schedule your second visit 2 – 3 weeks after your first visit.
THE SECOND VISIT: PLACE THE CROWN
During the visit to “seat”, or place, the crown, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and clean off any remaining temporary cement.
Your new crown will then be placed with longer-lasting adhesive, and will be checked and shaped until you have a comfortable and natural bite.
AFTER THE FIRST VISIT
While you have the temporary crown, try not to chew anything sticky or very hard, as the temporary crown could dislodge. If the temporary crown does come out, just call your dentist to have it replaced.
AFTER THE SECOND VISIT
After the crown is placed, avoid chewing anything sticky or very hard on that side to allow the crown to properly set.
For the first week, do not pull floss up on the sides of the crown; rather, draw the floss through the space between your teeth to avoid popping the crown off.
When you have a crown, sticky foods like caramel or taffy can pull the crown off – it’s generally best to avoid these foods.
IF YOUR CROWN COMES OFF
If your crown does come off, contact us to have it examined.
If there is no damage to the crown or to the underlying tooth, the crown can usually be put back into place. If the crown has cracked, chipped, or worn through, a new crown may be necessary.
Most crowns will last several years when cared for properly. You should brush and floss at least twice a day to maintain good oral health.
Sealants are a thin layer of protective coating that help fill in the grooves of your teeth where food and bacteria can collect, eventually causing decay. Filling the grooves with a sealant dramatically reduces the likelihood of decay and cavities in those teeth.
A few minutes per tooth (depends on the number of teeth); usually done in conjunction with a filling or cleaning.
What to expect
Your dentist can easily apply sealants. First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and dried. The sealant material is then painted over the biting surface of the teeth where it fills in any grooves or fissures. A light may be used to accelerate the process of bonding and hardening the sealant material to the tooth.
It is important to continue regular brushing and flossing even after sealants are applied. You should see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. During your exam, the dentist will evaluate the sealants and determine if a re-application is needed.
Inlays & Onlays
Dental inlays or onlays are used when a tooth has a damaged area that is too large for a filling, but does not require a full crown. An inlay fills the space between the rounded edges at the center of the tooth’s surface, while an onlay covers one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth.
Two visits: 45-60 minutes to prepare the area (first visit), 30 minutes to place (second visit).
What to expect
To place an inlay or onlay, your dentist will first numb the area to ensure you are comfortable. The decayed or damaged area of the tooth is removed, an impression of the area is taken, and a temporary inlay/onlay is placed with a temporary dental cement to protect the tooth. Your dentist will identify the specific color of your teeth, and send that information along with the impression to the lab.
It takes about 2 weeks for the custom inlay/onlay to be made by the lab. During the visit to seat the inlay/only, the temporary device is removed, the area is cleaned, and the custom inlay/onlay is placed.
You should avoid chewing in the area of the inlay/onlay for 1-2 days to ensure it has time to set properly. Be cautious when eating sticky food like taffy, caramel, or gummy candies as they could pull the inlay/onlay off.
If your inlay/onlay does come off, contact us right away. If the device is not damaged, it can usually be cleaned and re-cemented.
If you have a tooth that is damaged, diseased, or causing crowding, your dentist may recommend removing the tooth.
45+ minutes (depending on location, health, and number of teeth).
What to expect
To do this, your dentist will first numb the area thoroughly. The tooth will them be removed using dental instruments, and a gauze pack will be placed over the area. It is important to keep the gauze pack in place for up to an hour after the procedure to assist in healing.
Your dentist will provide you with specific post-operative instructions.
Generally these include continuing the brush and floss twice daily, and keeping the healing area clean and free of food particles. You may use a salt-water rinse, but avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol as this can cause irritation.
When you want a natural-looking smile but are missing teeth, dentures may be the solution for you.
What are dentures?
Full dentures are used when all of the upper and/or lower teeth are missing, and partial dentures clasp to existing teeth to replace a section of missing teeth. Some dentures are held in place with dental implants. It is important to consult with your dentist about the type of denture that will work best for you.
What to expect
Our dental labs partner with your dentist to ensure the most natural-looking denture possible. Dentures have come a long way – the teeth are shaded and shaped for a custom look, and the gums of the denture match your natural gum color. In many cases, it’s difficult to tell when someone is wearing dentures!
Post procedure recovery time varies. It is important to wear your appliance as much as possible.
When the soft tissue inside a tooth (the pulp, which contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased, a root canal may be necessary.
Approximately 2 hours.
What it is & when it’s necessary
When the soft tissue inside a tooth (the pulp, which contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased, a root canal may be necessary. This can happen when a deep cavity develops, a tooth is broken or cracked, or if there is an injury to the tooth. Often the first sign that a root canal is needed is pain or swelling, but a dentist can detect the need for a root canal prior to any discomfort during a regular dental exam.
What to expect
During a root canal, your dentist will first numb the area with a local anesthetic, then clean out the diseased pulp in the tooth and reshape the canal. Medicine may be inserted into the canal to fight bacteria.
The canal is then filled with material to prevent recontamination of the tooth and permanently sealed. A crown is placed to further protect the tooth.
After the root canal procedure you may experience soreness for a few days while the tissue recovers. You will be scheduled for a follow-up exam and crown preparation.
Although the vast majority of root canals are successful, rarely a root canal needs to be re-done or fails all together. If you feel pressure or continued acute pain at the site of the procedure, it is important to contact us right away.
Specialty Care & Referrals
Our dentists may recommend that you see a specialist for a specific procedure or ongoing treatment. To ensure you receive the best possible care, we have dental specialists in our practice who work with us to support your optimal dental health.
Call our office if you believe you may need a referral for specialty care. (206) 343-8929
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained to treat conditions, injuries, and defects of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. Most wisdom teeth extractions are performed by oral surgeons, but this is just one small part of their expertise.
The dental concentration focusing on implants and gum disease is Periodontics. Periodontists have advanced training in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease and also perform cosmetic periodontal procedures. For more information see: What to Expect Following Your Periodontal Surgery.
Endodontics is the branch of dentistry focused on dental pulp and tissues surrounding the roots of the tooth. Endodontists are primarily concerned with saving teeth by performing root canal treatments, surgeries, or specialized treatments following dental trauma. For more information see: What to Expect Following Your Endodontic Surgery.
Pediatric Dentistry & Pedodontics Specialists
While many children successfully see the regular family dentist, children with special behavioral or oral health needs may benefit from working with a Pediatric Dentist. These doctors have specific training and work exclusively with children from infants to adolescents.
Orthodontics is the dental practice specifically focused on helping you achieve a healthy bite. Corrections may be needed when teeth are crowded, spaced too far apart, or do not align correctly. Orthodontics may be recommended for people of almost any age.