Certain dental services are performed more often than others. From cleanings to fluoride treatments to dental contouring, the Arkansas Family Dental team is experienced in every aspect of oral care and hygiene. If you come in for treatment, you will probably start with one of our most common dental services. Learn more about the most common dental services we provide and how Arkansas Family Dental can help you maintain and improve your dental health!
AFD’s 5 Most Common Dental Services
1. Cavity Fillings
Unfortunately, cavities are all too common, putting cavity fillings right at the top of our list of most common dental services. Luckily, cavity fillings are a relatively straightforward process and can usually be completed within an hour. Of course, multiple cavities generally require multiple fillings. This usually lengthens your time in the chair.
What to Expect
For the average cavity filling, you should expect your appointment to last around an hour. This gives your dental team time to take x-rays, talk you through the procedure, answer questions, and complete the fillings.
Before they start drilling, your dentist will completely numb your mouth to avoid any discomfort. If you are nervous about pain or have dental anxiety in regards to any dental service, talk to your dentist about sedation options. We want to ensure you are as comfortable and calm as possible throughout your procedure.
After numbing, your dentist will use a very small drill to remove the cavity. Every bit of decay must be removed to prevent it from spreading further and damaging your tooth. Once the cavity has been removed, your dentist will fill the remaining space with a filling.
Types of Fillings
There are several kinds of fillings available. Before your procedure, your dentist will go over the material options and help you choose the best filling for your teeth and budget. Each type of cavity filling has its own pros and cons. The best filling for you will depend on your aesthetic preferences, dental insurance, and budget.
Composite fillings are also called “resins.” These cavity fillings are made of quartz or glass and can be mixed to match the color of your tooth as closely as possible. This makes them very popular for people who want a natural aesthetic.
They are also very durable, making them perfect for both small and mid-sized cavity fillings. Composite fillings are often recommended for teeth used for high or moderate amounts of chewing.
Amalgam fillings are the most common fillings and have been used by dentists for over a century. Amalgam is extremely durable, which makes it perfect for cavity fillings in your molars and other high-traffic chewing areas of the mouth.
However, some people dislike amalgam because it is made of a combination (or “amalgam”) of metals. The filling is silver and shiny in appearance, and so it will be more noticeable when you laugh, smile, talk, or eat.
Amalgam is also the least expensive cavity filler and is often covered fully or at least partially by dental insurance.
Ceramic fillings are almost always made of porcelain. This filling material is very popular because it is tooth-colored and stain-resistant, making it the most aesthetically pleasing of the cavity filling options.
However, ceramic fillings are also one of the most expensive options. In fact, they can be just as expensive – or more expensive – than gold fillings! If you prefer the look of porcelain fillings, talk to your dentist about your options for this dental service . Your insurance may cover some of your costs, and your dentist might have financing options available for the remaining balance.
The most common metal fillings are silver and gold. Gold fillings are much more expensive than silver fillings – up to ten times more expensive. Some people prefer the look enough to justify the cost. Metal fillings are also very durable; they can last 10-15 years before a replacement is required.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are made from a blend of glass and acrylic. They are not as durable as other cavity-filling materials and often need to be replaced within five years of the original procedure.
However, the big benefit of ionomer fillings is that they are designed to release fluoride into your tooth to help protect it from future cavities. This can prevent decay from spreading or turning into gum disease.
Cavity Filling Aftercare and Recovery
Immediately after your cavity filling, you may experience some tooth sensitivity or discomfort. This should subside within a few hours. If you are still in pain the day after your procedure, contact your dentist. They will schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure your fillings have been properly filed down and your mouth looks healthy.
Even if your teeth feel a little sensitive, do not neglect your oral hygiene routine. Use toothpaste and mouthwash designed for tooth sensitivity and floss as usual. Ask your dentist about taking over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Replacing Cavity Fillings
How soon you need to replace your cavity fillings will depend on which material you choose and how well you care for your teeth. Most fillings last for years – even a decade – before they need to be replaced.
However, if you tend to grind your teeth or clench your jaw, you may end up needing replacement fillings sooner. You can also damage your fillings by biting down or chewing on hard foods like ice, nuts, popcorn kernels, etc. Protect your teeth and your fillings by avoiding very hard foods when possible.
If you think you have damaged your filling or are experiencing pain, contact your family dentist to schedule an appointment. They will be able to examine your fillings and repair or replace them as necessary.
2. Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel. Your body can process fluoride systemically or topically.
Systemic fluoride is fluoride that can be ingested or swallowed. You can ingest fluoride naturally from foods like spinach, potatoes, grapes, shellfish, coffee, and tea. However, the most common form is fluoridated tap water. Most cities put fluoride in their water to help keep their citizens’ teeth strong and healthy. You can also take fluoride supplements if you live somewhere without fluoridated water.
A topical fluoride is a form of mineral applied directly to your teeth. This is the fluoride found in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and dental services. When you come to Arkansas Family Dental for fluoride treatments, we apply topical fluoride.
The Benefits of Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride has several physical benefits. First, it helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus to build stronger bones and teeth.
Fluoride also creates a barrier against bacteria by coating the enamel on your teeth. This protects the dentin and soft tissue inside your teeth from infection and decay, both of which can lead to severe and painful dental issues.
Fluoride is also a natural anti-bacterial agent, killing the bad bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities, bad breath, and dental caries. This property also makes it a popular ingredient in most mouthwashes.
Regular fluoride treatments have been shown to slow down – and even fully reverse – the early stages of tooth decay. When used regularly, it works as both a treatment and a preventative against infections and decay.
When fluoride coats your teeth, it does more than just protect them from outside invaders like bacteria. It also seals in essential minerals to keep them from escaping from your teeth. This keeps your teeth healthy and functional for longer.
When people get the recommended level of fluoride in their oral hygiene routine, they suffer from fewer dental issues and require fewer dental services. Fluoride and fluoride treatments are excellent preventatives that cost less in the long run than dealing with dental problems like cavities, dental caries, or gingivitis.
What To Expect During a Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatments should only be performed in your family dentist’s office. Do not attempt to perform a fluoride treatment yourself. Too much fluoride can erode the enamel on your teeth and cause staining, pitting, specks, and brittle teeth. If too much is swallowed, fluoride can also cause nausea, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue.
Several types of professional-grade fluoride are used in treatments:
- Gel: applied with a swab
- Varnish: applied with a brush
- Foam: applied with dental trays
- Concentrated oral rinse: applied through a mouthwash
Treatments can vary based on how long they take and how good or bad they taste. Your dentist will discuss your treatment options with you beforehand and help you choose the best treatment for your teeth and preferences. Generally speaking, your treatment will take about 30 minutes to complete.
Fluoride Treatment Aftercare
After your treatment, you should not eat or drink for at least half an hour. This allows the treatment to fully absorb into your teeth. You should also refrain from swallowing as much as possible. This limits your ingestion of the highly concentrated fluoride solution and the possibility of negative side effects.
After your treatment and the waiting period are complete, you should be able to return to life as usual. You may experience slight tooth sensitivity from the application of the fluoride, but you should not have any noticeable pain. If you are experiencing tooth pain after a fluoride treatment, let your dentist know immediately.
Who Needs Fluoride Treatments?
Fluoride treatments are often recommended for patients with low-level tooth decay in the early stages. In these cases, fluoride treatments may be able to lessen the damage or reverse it altogether. Fluoride treatments, when prescribed appropriately, can prevent the need for much more invasive and expensive procedures down the road.
Fluoride treatments are also often recommended for people who live in rural areas or areas with little or no access to fluoridated water. This ensures they receive the necessary level of fluoride to protect their teeth and overall dental health.
If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments. Fluoride coats the teeth and can help cover areas with worn or missing enamel. This reduces sensitivity by protecting the dentin and nerves inside your teeth.
If you live somewhere with low fluoride levels in the water and you cannot afford regular trips to the dentist, use fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste. While it does not have the same concentration as a professional fluoride treatment, regular use can significantly improve your oral health and protection.
Our patients often ask us about fluoride mouthwash vs. toothpaste. There is little difference in the amount of fluoride used in each product, and we generally recommend that you use both.
Are Fluoride Treatments Safe for Children?
Fluoride treatments for children are different than for adult patients. Because children have less control over their reflexes, they are more likely to swallow during the procedure than adults. Ingesting high concentrations of fluoride is even more dangerous for children than for adults.
For these reasons, most family dentists recommend pediatric fluoride treatments use only varnish. This application method is the least likely to be ingested.
At Arkansas Family Dental, we always recommend our young patients wait until they are at least three years old to start using fluoridated toothpaste. Monitor your children closely while they brush and make sure they spit all the toothpaste out.
How Much Do Fluoride Treatments Cost?
Fluoride treatments for children are usually completely covered by insurance. Depending on your insurance coverage, as an adult, you may have to pay $30 or more. Ask your dentist about the cost of fluoride treatments based on your insurance coverage.
3. Deep Cleaning
The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist at least once a year for a routine cleaning and examination. If you have a history of periodontal disease, your family dentist may recommend you have your teeth cleaned more often to prevent buildup and infection.
Deep cleaning is different from a routine dental cleaning. Regular cleanings focus on removing plaque and polishing the teeth. A deep cleaning goes below the gum line to clear plaque out of the pockets at the base of your teeth and remove tartar from the roots.
Plaque is a sticky substance that creates a film over the surface of your teeth. It is caused by tiny food particles mixing with bacteria and saliva. The best way to prevent plaque buildup is by brushing regularly.
However, if you have poor brushing habits or areas that are hard to reach, left-behind plaque will build up and eventually harden. This calcified substance is known as tartar. When plaque and tartar are allowed to build up, they can cause gum inflammation and infection.
Gingivitis is the most common form of gum infection and causes inflammation, bleeding, and bad breath. If left untreated, gingivitis can evolve into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that eats away at the bones that support your teeth.
Signs You May Need a Deep Cleaning
Signs you may need a dental deep cleaning include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bruising around your gums
- Sore gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
All of these symptoms can be caused by gum disease. Please note that some gum diseases will require other treatments in addition to a deep cleaning.
If it has been more than six months since your last regular cleaning, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning to help remove the excess plaque and tartar.
Tell your dentist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. They will likely perform an x-ray to check for bone loss and measure any pockets found with a probe. This process should be completely painless.
What To Expect
Before you undergo a deep cleaning, your dentist will likely schedule an appointment to take a full x-ray of your mouth. That way, they will know exactly which areas of your mouth require attention. They will go over the x-ray with you, ask pertinent questions about your medical history, and measure the depth of your gum pockets.
During a deep cleaning, your dentist will start with a technique called periodontal scaling and root planing. This involves going beneath the gum line to remove as much plaque and tartar as possible from all areas of your teeth, including the roots.
Periodontal scraping involves scraping away the plaque and tartar with a hand-held dental scraper. If this manual technique is not enough to reach or remove the plaque and tartar buildup, they may use an ultrasonic removal device.
These ultrasonic cleaners have a vibrating metal tip that helps loosen and pulverize the buildup. Your dentist will likely use this tool in combination with a water sprayer to wash away debris as it is scraped off the surface of the tooth.
Root planing is performed with a rubbing motion rather than by scraping. This prevents nerve damage and pain and protects the soft tissue of the roots. When the roots of your teeth develop rough spots, the crevices and cracks can trap bacteria and promote infection. Planing these rough spots can also help your gums reattach to your teeth.
After the scaling and planning process, your teeth will be polished and rinsed like a regular cleaning. They may also floss your teeth and apply a fluoride treatment for extra protection. This re-mineralizes your enamel and helps prevent infection from setting in.
After your cleaning, you may experience a little sensitivity and gum soreness. Be gentle with your teeth and gums, and try to use products designed for sensitive teeth. Additionally, you should avoid food and beverages that may irritate your gums for a few days, including anything acidic, hot, crunchy, or sticky.
If you notice bleeding or experience extreme sensitivity, avoid brushing the area in question for a day or two. Do not floss for at least a week to avoid further irritating your gums.
To help with pain and swelling, swish your mouth with lukewarm (not hot!) saltwater solution a few times a day. This also helps kill bacteria and prevent infection while your gums are healing.
Does a Deep Cleaning Hurt?
How much pain you experience after a deep cleaning will depend on the severity of your case and your general pain tolerance. Many of our patients are back to normal within a day or two, while others experience sensitivity for up to a week. If you already suffer from tooth sensitivity, deep cleanings can be particularly unpleasant.
We always provide local anesthetic when needed, so be sure to speak up if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort during your procedure. If you tend to feel extremely anxious regarding dental services, ask your dentist about sedation options. At Arkansas Family Dental, we offer a variety of dental sedation solutions to make sure you are comfortable.
How Much Do Deep Cleanings Cost?
The cost of your deep cleaning will depend on how severely your mouth needs care. Worse infection and inflammation means it will take longer to clean your teeth. If your case is particularly bad, you may have to return for a second cleaning.
Depending on your insurance, deep cleanings may be at least partially covered, reducing your out-of-pocket costs. Many dental insurance plans cover deep cleanings as preventative care. Ask your dentist about an estimate of the final cost and your payment options.
4. Dental Contouring
Many of our patients struggle with feeling confident about their smile. If your teeth are disproportionate, crooked, chipped, or lack uniformity in other ways, dental contouring can help. Dental contouring reshapes your teeth to make them more aesthetically pleasing. Let Arkansas Family Dental boost your confidence and give you the smile you deserve.
What to Expect
Dental contouring works by removing a small part of the tooth enamel and is one of our most popular cosmetic dental services. First, your dentist will take an x-ray to ensure your teeth are healthy and in good condition. Once your dentist is satisfied with the images, they will mark up the areas that need contouring.
The contouring process is painless because there are no nerves in your enamel. If you are nervous or experience dental anxiety, talk to your dentist about sedation options.
After they walk you through the process and make sure you are comfortable, your family dentist will use specialized tools to carefully remove small amounts of enamel from your tooth. They can smooth chips and ragged edges with a sanding drill. They may also use a small laser to round or square off the ends of your teeth.
Your dentist can also provide contouring by adding to a broken, chipped, or short tooth with tooth-colored resin. This can help smooth lines and prevent too much enamel from being removed from your healthy teeth.
Once the desired aesthetic is achieved, your dentist will ensure your bite is aligned correctly. They will polish your teeth and voila! You have a brand new smile. The entire procedure usually takes well under an hour, and you should be able to return to your daily activities immediately.
Dental Contouring Aftercare
After dental contouring, you should be able to return to business as usual. There should be no pain or discomfort. In fact, most of our patients find caring for their teeth and biting down is easier after their smile is properly aligned.
Because dental contouring involves the removal of enamel, you may experience a little tooth sensitivity after the procedure. Avoid abrasive toothpaste and toothbrushes and consider switching to products formulated for sensitive teeth. This can prevent further wear.
Fluoride treatments can also help improve sensitivity and rebuild enamel. If you notice extreme sensitivity or discomfort after dental contouring, consult with your dentist immediately. They will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment.
You should continue to brush twice a day and floss twice a day after dental contouring. Avoid sugary drinks and foods to prevent the build-up of plaque and other harmful bacteria.
When some of your enamel is removed, your teeth may be temporarily weakened. If you tend to grind or clench your jaw, consider investing in a mouth guard to avoid damaging your newly perfect smile in your sleep!
Increasing your calcium intake, naturally or through supplements, can strengthen your enamel. Always talk to your dentist or family doctor before beginning any new vitamins or supplements to ensure they will be beneficial and will not interfere with any medications you are prescribed.
The Benefits of Dental Contouring
The most obvious benefit of dental contouring is improved aesthetics. This simple procedure can make a huge difference in the symmetry and evenness of your smile.
This non-invasive procedure usually takes less than an hour to complete. This makes it a less expensive cosmetic option to repair chips and cracks in the enamel of your teeth. It is also painless and does not require sedation, which is helpful for people with dental anxiety.
The results of dental contouring are permanent, so you do not have to make a second visit or have additional work done unless you chip another tooth.
Dental contouring can also lower the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, which often occur when teeth overlap or are uneven. When your teeth are properly aligned, cleaning and removing the plaque that leads to infection and inflammation is much easier.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Contouring?
To be a good candidate for dental contouring, your teeth must be healthy and in relatively good shape. If your teeth are particularly warped or misaligned, you may need to talk to your dentist about Invisalign, braces, or other orthodontic interventions. Dental contouring is only meant to address minor dental flaws.
If your enamel is too thin, your doctor may recommend finding another form of treatment for your smile. The risk of filing your enamel down too close to the interior nerves of your teeth can lead to permanent – and very painful – damage.
If you already suffer from sensitive teeth, your family dentist is unlikely to recommend dental contouring as a good option for you. The removal of enamel could make your sensitivity worse, especially in relation to hot and cold temperatures.
If you tend to grind your teeth or clench your jaw when you sleep, talk to your dentist about how contouring may affect you. Because removing enamel can weaken your teeth, you may need a mouthguard for protection while you sleep. If the current damage was caused by grinding, it could reoccur if you continue to grind your teeth without treatment or preventative devices.
How Much Does Dental Contouring Cost?
The cost of dental contouring varies depending on how much work needs to be done. The cost of contouring per tooth can range from $50 to $300.
Insurance may cover part of the costs of your contouring procedure if the damage occurred as a result of an accident. However, dental contouring is considered an elective cosmetic procedure, so your insurance is unlikely to cover costs otherwise.
Talk to your dentist about your payment options. Most dentists have flexible payment plans to help you afford the dental procedures you need for a healthy and confident smile.
5. Dental Implants
The insertion of dental implants is the last of our most common dental services. Dental implants are surgically implanted in the jaw to offer support to artificial teeth and improve your ability to chew and bite down. These implants are often put in alongside crowns, bridges, and partial dentures.
Replacing your lost tooth with a dental implant can significantly improve your dental health and quality of life. When you lose a permanent tooth, you may experience certain complications, like:
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Lisping or difficulty speaking clearly
- Visible gaps in your smile
- Rapid bone loss in your jaw
A dental implant consists of the crown, the abutment, and the implant body. The implant body looks much like a screw, and it is inserted into your jawbone. The body of the implant supports the crown, which is the artificial tooth that rests atop the screw. Every crown is created and customized to fit exactly in place and support the surrounding healthy teeth.
When you lose a tooth, it leaves a space in your jawbone. This space can cause your jawbone to recede and deteriorate through lack of stimulation. An implant prevents this by attaching itself to your jawbone just like a tooth would, stimulating the nerves and keeping it healthy.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two main types of dental implants.
Endosteal implants are the most common form of dental implant. They are shaped like small screws and implanted directly into the jawbone. Endosteal implants are typically made of titanium because of their sterility and antibacterial properties.
Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gum but do not go directly into the jawbone. Instead, they rest on or just above the jawbone. This type of implant is usually recommended when the patient does not have enough natural or healthy jawbone to support regular implants. It is also an option for patients who do not want or cannot undergo a bone augmentation procedure.
If your jawbone is unable to support dental implants, your dentist may recommend a treatment plan to rebuild the bone and restore your natural jawline. Treatments to improve the health and stability of your jawbone include:
- Bone augmentation: Restoring the bone in your jaw through the use of bone additives and growth factors
- Sinus lift: Adding bone beneath the sinuses to replace deteriorated bone
- Ridge expansion: Using bone grafts to add space in the mouth and make room for the required dental implants
What to Expect
Putting in dental implants is a surgical dental procedure, and you will need to be fully sedated. Your dentist will have to cut open the gum and expose your jawbone to correctly place the implant. Holes are then drilled into your jawbone and the implant posts are placed. The posts are designed to act as your new “tooth root” and are implanted deep in the jaw to offer support and stimulate bone growth.
This process is repeated as many times as necessary for each missing tooth. If you require bone augmentation, sinus lifts, or ridge expansions, these will be performed as well. The amount of time it takes to complete your dental implant procedure will vary depending on how much work needs to be done.
When the procedure is finished, you will still have a gap in your teeth. The implant must heal completely before adding the crown. Otherwise, you may irritate the healing site and cause inflammation, pain, or infection.
When the implant is placed in your jaw, it stimulates the bonding of your jawbone and the implant, called “osseointegration.” Once the jawbone fully grows into and integrates with the surface of your dental implant, your dentist can place the abutment and crown.
Osseointegration can take months, so be patient as you heal. If you are concerned about aesthetics, your dentist can provide you with a temporary denture to help hide any space in your teeth.
Having the abutment placed is a minor, outpatient procedure. Your family dentist will usually perform it using local anesthesia, although you can ask about your sedation options if you have dental anxiety.
To place the abutment, your dentist will reopen your gum, attach the abutment to the implant, and close the gum tissue around the abutment. It takes about two weeks for your gums to heal after the abutment procedure.
Once you are fully healed, your crown can be attached. This is a very quick, simple procedure, especially if your crowns are being screwed in. If you are using cement to secure your crown, you will need to remain in the office until the cement completely dries and can be filed down.
Dental Implant Aftercare
Dental implants are often a multi-stage process. The most uncomfortable step is the placement of the implant in your jaw. This is a major surgical procedure that can result in:
- Swelling of the gums and face
- Bruising around your jaw and gums
- Minor bleeding
- Pain in and around your jaw
You are likely to experience some pain right after your procedure. Your dentist will prescribe you the appropriate pain killers if necessary — along with antibiotics to ward off infection.
Any swelling and pain should decrease over the days following your procedure. If your pain gets worse, contact your dentist immediately. They will have you come in for a checkup to ensure the site has not become infected.
While you are healing from surgery, stick to soft foods requiring as little chewing as possible. Soup is fine, but make sure it is cool enough to avoid burning or irritating your surgical site.
You should also refrain from smoking after your implant surgery because smoking has been directly linked to implant failure and complications.
If your implant fails to take and fuse with your bone, the implant will be removed and you can try again in three months after your jawbone has completely healed. To avoid this costly and painful experience, do your best to practice excellent oral hygiene, follow all of your dentist’s care instructions, and stay away from hard or damaging foods and beverages during the recovery period.
The Best Family Dentist in Central Arkansas
No matter what dental services you need, Arkansas Family Dental is here to help. We have designed our dental services to offer complete dental care and coverage for every member of your family. We offer gentle dentistry for the entire family, including pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and dental emergencies.
Learn more about your oral health and the importance of regular teeth cleanings with this helpful infographic! We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about our services or your oral health. Contact us today for more information!