Educating our Patients with Long-Term Dental Care
If you consistently care for your oral health, you can prevent future dental diseases from happening, including gum disease, tooth decay, gingivitis, and more. You can also eliminate bad breath and tooth stains with regular brushing and flossing. Our goal is to educate our patients so that they know how to consistently care for their teeth at home. We also highly encourage at least two dental cleanings a year, but may recommend more depending on your condition.
In our office, you receive treatment that targets long-term oral health. We teach you how to maintain your own preventative care at home more effectively to ensure longevity. Your appointments are tailored for you based on your current oral health and the complexity of your existing dentistry and any new dental needs.
In partnership with you, together we can achieve your long-term oral health goals through regular cleanings and exams. Consistent and thorough care of your oral health can prevent future dental disease and painful problems. We will recommend only necessary treatment and offer custom designed treatment plans to fit your dental health needs.
Dental cleanings (Prophylaxis)
As part of your preventative dental plan, dental cleanings and thorough exams give us a chance to check your oral health on a regular basis. The number of annual check-ups you need depends on your dental condition. For most patients we recommend a dental cleaning and exam twice each year. Considering age, past dental procedures, dental diseases and conditions, and other situations your current dental health we may suggest more cleanings a year.
Dental cleanings help us identify and diagnose a variety of dental conditions, such as cavities, oral cancer, and gum disease. And Dr. Heinle gives a full and complete exam on every patient, at every dental cleaning, every time – complete oral care.
Dental exams are a crucial part of maintaining oral health and the integrity of past dental work. During your exam, Dr. Heinle will check for infected or decayed teeth, loose or shifting teeth, worn surfaces, a receding gum line, bone loss in the jaw, painful jaw joints, oral cancer or other conditions that may be causing you pain.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are a most necessary diagnostic tool. Xrays show areas of decay, infection, bone loss, abscesses and cysts and other injuries or abnormalities in the tooth structure. Using xrays is the most efficient and clear diagnostic tool – it’s the only method that shows the internal aspects of teeth and the surrounding bone & tissues. Bone loss, tumors & abscesses and problems with your jaw joint (TMJ) can be detected with the use of xrays. Heinle Dental uses the highest quality state-of-the-art digital imaging xray equipment. These digital xrays are the safest available – emitting the lowest exposure rates for dental xrays.
Clenching and grinding of teeth (bruxism) is a serious condition/habit. Most patients don’t even know they’re doing it while they sleep. But grinding is very harmful to your teeth – it causes wearing of your teeth and can damage your TMJ – temporomandibular joint. You can even fracture a tooth by clenching or grinding. Nightguards are a great solution. We custom make and fit a nightguard to your bite – alleviating the impact of grinding and clenching and the pain associated with this habit. Used daily, a nightguard can be an effective and comfortable solution to an unavoidable problem!
Anybody at any age that plays a sport or engages in a physical contact activity needs a mouthguard! Mouthguards are extremely important in preventing injuries due to sports-related activities. It’s also very important that a mouthguard fit properly – an ill-fitting mouthguard can actually do more damage by misaligning your natural bite. This can cause pain and even tooth fracture. We offer custom-made mouthguards fitting your natural bite. Worn properly, you don’t have to worry about your teeth when you’re trying to win that game!
Fluoride treatments, both topical and systemic, provide extra protection for your teeth. Even with brushing and flossing and regular exams and cleaning, fluoride can help in fighting tooth decay. Applied in the very early microscopic stages of disease, fluoride can repair teeth and help prevent cavities from forming.
Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth enamel. Examples are fluoride toothpaste and rinses as well as fluoride treatments at our office. These treatments use a fluoride preparation which is a much stronger concentration than over-the-counter products. These in-office treatments are recommended for child patients, patients with poor oral hygiene, eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, active orthodontic treatment, poor diet, sensitive or exposed tooth roots, or patients undergoing head or neck radiation therapy.
Depending on your overall oral health, fluoride treatments may be recommended every 3, 6 or 12 months. Fluoride, both over-the-counter and in-office treatments is an exceptional tool in fighting cavities – it is also completely safe and necessary for all patients
Oral cancer screenings
At each patient’s regular cleaning and exam, Dr. Heinle along with our Hygienists will perform a thorough Oral Cancer Screening. This visual and tactile exam includes lips, cheek lining, gum condition, your tongue, the floor of your mouth along with the roof of your mouth. Dr. Heinle will be closely looking for the six possible signs of oral cancer:
- A sore or irritation that isn’t getting better
- Red or white patches on your tissues
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- Any lumps, thickening, rough spot, crust or eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
If Dr. Heinle is suspicious of an area, he will have you return for a follow-up exam in a couple of weeks. If further testing is needed, he will work with you and one of the many well qualified oral surgeons in our area to diagnose any conditions and work together on a treatment plan.
Preventing oral cancer is knowing the risk factors – and a full oral exam at least twice a year.
Risk factors are:
- Gender – men are more likely to develop oral cancer
- Age – people over the age of 44 are more likely to show signs of oral cancer
- Tobacco use – smoking increases your risk of oral cancer dramatically. Cigarettes, pipes, and Chewing tobacco all can cause cancer of the cheeks, tongue, lips and gums
- Alcohol use – heavy drinking can cause oral cancers. In fact 7 out of 10 people that have ora Cancer are heavy drinkers
- HPV – Human papillomavirus – This sexually transmitted disease is now linked to oral cancers mainly in younger non-smokers. These patients usually have a lower risk or terminal oral cancer.
- Sunlight – Sunshine is essential to overall good health and wellness but too much exposure can cause cancers of the lips especially to patients who work outside. Wear UV protection!
- Diet – a nutrition poor diet, usually one that lacks fruits & vegetables, can cause oral cancers. Veggies and fruits are more than healthy for you – they’re delicious too!!
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food and plaque from between teeth but a toothbrush can’t reach into all the tiny crevices and grooves (known as pits & fissures) of teeth. Plaque can build up in these pits & fissures over time causing decay. Dental sealants protect these vulnerable areas and act as a barrier to help prevent cavities. Sealants skillfully applied to the surface area of the tooth should last many years – sometimes more sealant material is need as the child grows and more enamel is exposed. Developing pits or fissures usually happens early in life so children can definitely benefit from sealants. But adults who have difficulty brushing and flossing may also benefit from sealants. Brushing and flossing for at least two minutes twice a day is still absolutely necessary in maintaining optimal oral health.
Wisdom teeth removal
“Wisdom teeth” are actually the third set of molars. Not everyone develops wisdom teeth – some people have 1 or 2, some even have more that the typical 4! These are called supernumerary teeth. Most wisdom teeth need to be removed due to space issues. Extracting or “pulling” wisdom teeth is a simple procedure that we perform in our office just using local anesthesia. Recovery is typically 1-2 days with very little pain or side effects. Sometimes sutures (stitches) are needed, but with proper care they should offer no problems. Dr. Heinle has extracted thousands of teeth in his career – he’s very “wise” with “wisdom” teeth!
You don’t have to suffer with sensitive teeth! There are many treatments available that help ease the discomfort of sensitive teeth.
Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects the exposed tooth surface from cold, hot, even sweets. If your enamel is wearing due to erosion, abrasion or your tooth root is exposed, hypersensitivity can occur. Some very effective solutions to this problem include desensitizing toothpastes and topical fluoride gels. For more severe sensitivity, bonding with composite material has been shown to be very effective. For extreme cases of hypersensitivity, crowns or inlays may ease the symptoms. Root canal therapy has also been proven effective for treatment-resistant tooth sensitivity. There is a solution to super-sensitive teeth – you don’t have to have pain when eating, chewing or speaking. Call us today for a consultation – we will find a solution for you!
Children's Dental Health / Pediatric Dentistry
Starting a child’s dental health education off on the right path is so very important! Many children fear the dentist due to past unhappy experiences. Most kids don’t brush long enough or use proper technique – and flossing can be a struggle! We work with the child and the parent together as a team to achieve dental health education at an early age. Most kids should start regular cleanings and exams as early as 2 -3 years old; each child’s tolerance is different. Early dental care is so important for so many reasons:
- Kids need strong healthy teeth to chew, speak and smile!
- Healthy teeth also helps to give kids faces shape and keep spacing in the jaw for their adult teeth
- Early prevention of some serious dental conditions such as decay
Most kids teeth begin to come in at about 6 months old and will be lost usually one at a time. Most kids have all twenty primary (baby) teeth by the time they’re 3 years old and have all permanent teeth by the time they are 12 to 14. And, most teens develop “wisdom teeth” or third molars – most of which will need to be extracted due to spacing problems.
Some important tips for keeping kid’s teeth healthy:
- Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of juice or other sugary liquids, even milk, since it can easily cause decay. Plain water or a clean pacifier is recommended to help soothe a baby to sleep
- Really try and limit the sugary liquids (even watered-down juice) in sippy cups when your baby gets older – any sugary liquids can damage teeth
- Try to soothe a teething baby by rubbing a clean finger or a wet gauze pad gently over the baby’s gums – never introduce local anesthetics (creams or gels) – these can cause serious reactions in small children
- For kids under 3 years old, use no more than a smear or grain-of-rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. For kids three to six years old, use only a rice-sized or pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste – and make sure all kids spit the excess.
- 2 minutes, 2 times a day – Parents: this is SO important, and watch that they reach all of the surfaces of all of their teeth!
- Flossing daily is as important as brushing – start good habits early!!
- Limit sipping and snacking as much as possible between meals – bacteria forms after any food or liquid and can cause decay
- Choose healthy snacks and drinks like fruit & veggies and milk & water – sugary drinks (especially juice) and processed foods are full of sugar that can cause decay and are just not healthy for anyone.
- Try and break the sucking habit – either by thumbs or pacifiers. Self-soothing is important but after the age of two, too much sucking on a pacifier or a thumb can cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth.
- A mouthguard is essential if your child plays contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey and lacrosse -they can prevent mouth & teeth injuries in any sport!
- If your baby’s tooth is accidentally knocked out, it is important for us to examine it – even though a baby tooth is eventually shed, an accident could cause damage to the tooth socket. And please, never try to reinsert the tooth – just bring it in to us.
- Unlike a baby tooth, if your child should lose a permanent tooth, you should try and put the tooth back into the socket. Make sure that it is clean – rinse the root briefly in water (don’t scrub it) but try not to touch the root. Hold by the crown firmly and gently try to reinsert into the tooth socket. If it doesn’t easily go back in the socket, put the tooth in a clean container with milk or saliva or saline – water is there if there is nothing else available. Call us and we will see your child immediately!
- Sealants are an important and necessary tool to prevent tooth decay. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces of teeth and help prevent bacteria-based plaque from forming on the biting surface of the tooth. Sealants can last several years but good home care is still necessary and important for the tooth areas not covered by sealants. Some adults can benefit also from sealants!