Residents of Duluth and the surrounding areas need dental care for many reasons. Everyone should be getting regular cleanings and exams to protect their oral health and prevent issues like cavities. You may also need care if you have a toothache, a chipped or damaged tooth, or another dental problem. If you have children, they should start seeing a dentist at about 12 months of age.
What Services Are Offered at a Dentist in Duluth?
At Great Care Family Dentistry, we provide a full range of services for patients of all ages. Here are some of the types of dental care we can help you with:
Cleanings and Exams at a Dentist Office in Duluth
Healthy adults should have a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year, preferably every six months. At this visit, an oral hygienist will carefully clean your teeth, first scraping off plaque and tartar, then polishing the teeth. This cleaning, along with regular brushing and flossing, will help to reduce plaque buildup and prevent tooth decay.
During the same visit, we will also examine your teeth to look for any cavities or other areas of concern. Usually, we’ll take dental X-rays once a year or every other exam if you come every six months as recommended. If the dentist finds cavities or other problems, we’ll schedule an appointment for a filling or other restoration. Taking care of minor dental issues is another excellent way to prevent more painful and complicated difficulties.
Fillings are a very common and minor restorative procedure. Cavities, or tiny holes in the teeth, can form when bacteria collect on a tooth and cause decay. Although brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings drastically reduce the risk of cavities, occasionally, they may happen anyway. When they do, treatment with a filling will help to stop the decay and prevent further difficulties.
We will give you a local anesthetic, and after making sure you’re numb, drill out the decayed area of the tooth. Next, we’ll place a filling, most often made of a composite resin material that matches your teeth. We can also use a metal amalgam, but many patients prefer the more natural-looking composite look.
Some patients may want to put off fillings or aren’t sure they’re necessary. However, leaving a cavity untreated allows the decay to continue. Sooner or later it will break through the outer layers of the tooth and into the pulp, causing an infection, or abscessed tooth. This usually leads to the need for a root canal, a more advanced procedure. Abscessed teeth are also usually much more painful than cavities. For these reasons, we recommend filling cavities promptly instead of waiting for them to get worse.
Sometimes a tooth has a large chip or crack that can’t be fixed with a filling or dental bonding. If this is the case, we may recommend a crown to protect the tooth from more damage. A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that fits over the natural tooth. There are several different types of crowns, but often we use porcelain in a shade that matches your other teeth.
The crown process usually involves two appointments. At the first one, we will give you a local anesthetic and file down the natural tooth, eliminating any decay and creating room for the crown. Next, we make a mold of your teeth for the dental lab that will create your crown. Finally, we’ll put a temporary crown over the tooth so it’s covered while you wait for the permanent one. Temporary crowns are applied with weaker adhesives since they will be removed in a few weeks, so we advise chewing carefully. If your temporary crown comes out before your permanent crown is ready, give us a call, and we can put it back in for you.
As soon as the permanent crown is ready, we’ll take off the temporary one and glue the permanent crown in place, then check your bite. If you have trouble with the new crown, we can adjust it.
A tooth can develop an abscess due to decay, like a cavity, a large crack that allows bacteria into the tooth, or even an injury, like being hit in the mouth. When the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected, it is often necessary to perform a root canal, in which we drill deep into the tooth and remove all the diseased tissue and blood vessel, then hollow out the root canal and fill it with inert material. After this procedure, the tooth will no longer have a blood supply and become brittle, so we’ll place a crown to protect it from damage.
Extractions, Bridges, and Dental Implants
Keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible is preferred, but in some situations, it simply isn’t possible. The tooth may be too badly decayed or damaged for a filling, crown, or root canal to salvage it. When this occurs, we can do an extraction of the tooth. This is a fairly simple procedure in which we numb the area, remove the tooth, then pack the exposed hole in the gums with gauze. In some cases, we may place a few stitches if necessary.
After the extraction, you will probably have pain and swelling for a few days. We recommend eating soft foods and resting, and we may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics if needed.
In many cases, an extraction leaves behind a gap or hole between teeth that the patient finds problematic. It may be a cosmetic issue, or the hole could cause difficulties with your bite, chewing, or even speech. There are several options we may consider to address this problem:
- A removable bridge. This attaches to the teeth on either side of the gap and can be removed. Because it’s a partial denture, many patients find having to remove and clean it to be a hassle, so removable bridges aren’t right for everyone.
- A permanent bridge. With this option, we cement a false tooth in between the neighboring teeth. This is permanently fixed and can only be removed at the dental office. However, a few people have difficulties if the bridge becomes loose, and if you lose one of the teeth it’s attached to, you will lose the bridge as well.
- Dental implants. This is a much more involved procedure but can give you a self-supporting false tooth. We’ll place a titanium rod into the jaw and wait for it to fuse with the bone, then add a post that extrudes above the gumline. Finally, a crown will be attached to the post. The crown can be removable, but most patients prefer a permanent one that is glued in place. A dental implant is not dependent on the tooth around it, and in some instances, one implant can support multiple crowns. However, this process involves multiple procedures, and certain difficulties with the jaw or bone growth may rule it out as an option.
We offer a variety of options to help with cosmetic issues that bother you. These include whitening, bonding, veneers, and tooth or gum contouring. Occasionally crowns can also be used for cosmetic purposes. By creating a custom plan using one or more of these treatments, we can help you with tooth discoloration or staining, chipped or cracked teeth, misaligned or misshapen teeth, and spaces between the teeth.
Contact a Family Dentist in Duluth
Our office staff is ready to help answer your questions or schedule your first appointment. Please contact Great Care Family Dentistry today to get started on improving and maintaining your oral health.