Dental Cleanings

Dental cleanings are an important part of your dental health. Also known as "prophylaxis," dental cleanings remove both plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also known as tartar or build-up). Calculus is so hard that patients are not able to remove it themselves at home and is one of the reasons regular dental cleanings are required.

At Plaza Midwood Dentistry, we believe in customized care for each patient. While many dentist offices recommend dental cleanings every six months, Dr. Farmer believes in treating each patient based on their individual needs. While some patients may need a cleaning every three or four months, others may only need one cleaning a year - we don't base our care on what has been done traditionally or what your insurance company pays for, but rather on what is best for each one of our patients!

For patients that are anxious about having their teeth cleaned, talk to us about your options to reduce anxiety during your cleaning, including the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to relieve your stress and have an enjoyable dental visit.

Dental Exams

Dental examinations are important because they help identify potential problems before they develop, allowing Dr. Farmer to preserve more tooth structure, perform less invasive and less costly procedures, and identify future complications. At Plaza Midwood Dentistry, we believe in taking care of dental issues proactively rather than waiting on dental pain to occur. By doing this, we are able to maintain more of the patient's natural teeth and avoid more extensive dental work in the future.

Not only do dental examinations involve carefully inspecting the teeth, they also allow us to see any existing abnormalities in the head and neck region including the lips, tongue, throat and gums. These abnormalities could include identification of tumors, cysts, cancerous lesions or pre-cancerous lesions. It is important to identify these lesions early in order to treat them least invasively and most effectively.

Often, dental examinations will include digital X-rays taken the day of your appointment. Click here to learn more about digital X-rays and why Plaza Midwood Dentistry utilizes them.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening has been proven to be safe and effective - removing acquired stains from your teeth without damaging the enamel of your teeth. At Plaza Midwood Dentistry, we are able to make whitening trays (bleaching trays) that are custom fitted to a patient's teeth. The patient places a small amount of carbamide peroxide in the tray in the comfort of their own home and the stains that the teeth have accumulated over time are gradually removed.

While teeth whitening works well in many cases, especially teeth that are yellow in color, it is more difficult to successfully whiten grey colored teeth or teeth that are discolored due to defects in the tooth's formation. Also, any restorations (such as crowns or bonding) will not change color due to whitening. If a patient has a lot of restorations in the front part of their mouth, it may be more effective to consider other options such as laminate veneers to improve their smile.

As a dental provider, we are able to offer our patients a variety of prescription strength whitening gels based on the patient's individual needs. Whitening can occasionally cause sensitivity if the patient traditionally has sensitive teeth or if the concentration of the gel used is too high. If this occurs, do not worry - the sensitivity usually goes away in a few days and brushing with toothpaste specified for sensitive teeth may alleviate any discomfort.

By using our office for teeth whitening, we are able to customize your whitening experience rather than treating each patient the same. We can adjust the concentration of the gel to fit your individual needs and to keep you comfortable while improving your smile!

Digital X-Rays

Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool in helping us to detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. Dr. Farmer will determine how often X-rays should be taken depending on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.

If you are a new patient, we may recommend X-rays to determine the present status of your oral health and have a baseline to help identify changes that may occur later. A new set of X-rays may be needed to help us detect any new cavities, determine the status of your gum health or evaluate the growth and development of your teeth. By identifying any potential issues early, we can often provide more conservative and less costly care.

Dental X-ray exams are safe and the development of digital X-rays has decreased the already small exposure to radiation to an even lower level. At Plaza Midwood Dentistry, we have state-of-the-art digital X-rays that allow us to see your X-rays instantly on a computer screen, eliminating chemicals used to develop the traditional X-rays in a darkroom. The use of digital X-rays also allows us to communicate more easily with referring providers (if needed) and provides a better overall experience for each patient which is always one of our goals!

Fillings

We are now able to restore teeth with tooth colored restorations, allowing for beautiful smiles that mimic the patient's natural tooth color. These fillings, often called composites or composite resins, are able to effectively restore function while appearing almost exactly the same color and texture as the patient's natural tooth. Tooth colored fillings often allow for a smaller restoration to be placed, allowing Dr. Farmer to remove less tooth structure. These fillings are "bonded" to tooth structure, increasing their ability to remain in place without increasing the risk of fracture.

At Plaza Midwood Dentistry, we do not place any fillings containing mercury. While we believe that the traditional "silver colored fillings" are effective and still have a place for use in many dental settings, Dr. Farmer chooses not to use them in his office due to the availability of a material that performs with similar success rates while appearing esthetically more attractive and preserving tooth structure.

Crowns

Dental crowns are used for a variety of reasons in dentistry. Crowns are most often used on teeth that are badly broken down or missing a lot of tooth structure. Other times, crowns are used to improve the appearance of a tooth (in a similar was as veneers are), prevent further wear of tooth structure, or because of teeth that were misshapen when they erupted. Crowns are also used on top of dental implants to restore chewing ability and function.

If I need a crown, do I have to have a root canal first?

No, not necessarily. Occasionally, teeth that need a crown will require a root canal to be performed on the tooth because of extensive decay, infection present, or a lack of space to place a crown without damaging the tooth's nerves and vessels. Often, a crown can be placed and a root canal will not be needed on the tooth.

As a general rule, once a root canal is performed on any teeth that are in the back of the mouth (premolars or molars), that tooth will need a crown on it in order to prevent it from breaking. On teeth that are located in the front part of the mouth, having a root canal does not necessarily indicate that a crown is required; rather, the need for a crown is determined on a case by case basis depending on the amount of tooth structure remaining and the risk of fracture in the future.

Some crowns are made out of porcelain (most esthetic), some out of metal (most often a gold containing alloy), and some out of a mix of metal and porcelain (most common). Dr. Farmer can show you examples of each of these kinds of crowns and discuss the advantages of each one with you depending on your specific circumstances.

Bridges

Missing teeth can cause a noticeable change in speaking and eating. Fortunately we now have many options to restore your smile. Bridges replace spaces where a tooth or teeth are missing and help to reduce stress when you bite or chew.

A bridge closes the space where a tooth is missing and looks like your natural teeth. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support. Unlike a removable partial denture, which you can take out and clean, a fixed bridge is permanently cemented in and can only be removed by a dentist.

Bridges do not necessarily have to be fixed to your natural teeth. We now have the option to attach a bridge to two or more implants. An implant bridge attaches artificial teeth to implants and does not affect your natural teeth. Regardless of which type of bridge your dentist recommends, its success depends on its foundation. So it's very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong.

Root Canals

The nerves and vessels of teeth occasionally get irritated and can die and become infected within your tooth. A special dental procedure called root canal therapy can help you save the infected tooth. Inside each tooth is the pulp which provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth; it runs like a thread down through the root. When the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue often dies. If you do not remove it, the tooth and the bone around it can get infected and you could lose that tooth if not treated quickly.

Root canal therapy includes removing and cleaning out the diseased tissue within the tooth but, against many people's beliefs, does not include removing the root itself. After the root canal is completed, a crown is often placed on top of the tooth to reinforce it and help maintain it.

In advanced cases, it may be necessary to refer the patient to an endodontist (a root canal specialist) to have the root canal performed. We are fortunate to have some of the country's leading endodontists in Charlotte and they will make sure you are treated just as well there as you are in our office!

Occasionally a root canal may take more than one visit to complete, depending on the severity of the infection. The best part of having a root canal is that you are able to save your natural tooth and, very often, patients are able to maintain that tooth, if cared for properly, for the rest of their lives!

Extractions

Occasionally, we are unable to save a tooth with other treatments and it needs to be taken out (extracted). Some of these reasons include severe tooth decay, broken teeth, or lack of space in the mouth (most often for wisdom teeth but also can be to aid in orthodontic treatment). Another common reason is periodontal disease which is an advanced form of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) that includes not only inflammation of the gums but also bone loss.

When dental extractions are required, Dr. Farmer always achieves profound anesthesia of the affected treatment area(s). While a patient will feel pressure during an extraction, they should not feel any sharp pain. Dr. Farmer believes in constant communication between the patient and himself to ensure the utmost comfort during extractions. If at any time you feel any discomfort other than pressure, you should let Dr. Farmer know immediately and he will take additional steps to achieve a deeper level of anesthesia.

It is important to follow the instructions given to you after your procedure, including not smoking, in order to protect against side effects such as a dry socket. Dr. Farmer or a member of his staff tries to be available for post-operative patients after hours and even on the weekends.

Dental Implants

Fortunately in today's dental environment, we have achieved some very impressive technological advances. This includes dental implants which allows us to have a very effective and minimally invasive method for replacing missing teeth.

In the past, our options to replace missing teeth included bridges and removable dentures. Now, we are able to offer the option of implants for many patients to replace a missing tooth. Dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Implants are posts placed below the gum while the area is anesthetized, allowing for a very comfortable procedure. The implants fuse to the jawbone and act as a replacement for a missing tooth, much as a root did for your natural teeth. Dental implants can be the base for individual crowns, bridges or a removable denture.

Patients with removable dentures or partials are often the most satisfied patients after having an implant placed. Dental implants make dentures much more stable and increase the patient's comfort, chewing ability, speech, and satisfaction. If you have a loose fitting denture, call today to schedule and evaluation for dental implants.

Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural. Some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.

In the case of a single missing tooth, an implant allows Dr. Farmer to replace that tooth without affecting the two adjacent teeth as opposed to when a bridge is placed. It is much more conservative and an excellent alternative if the two adjacent teeth are healthy and require no restorations.

Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. In order to be able to get an implant, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. Call Dr. Farmer today to evaluate you and determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants!

Dentures

If you have lost all of your natural teeth, whether from periodontal disease, tooth decay or injury, complete dentures can replace your missing teeth and your smile. Replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance, your eating ability, and your health. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, making a person look older. Your cheeks and lips can also sink in but dentures can help restore their original form. You'll be able to eat and speak comfortably again - things that people often take for granted until their natural teeth are lost.

There are various types of complete dentures. A traditional full denture is made and placed in the patient's mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed. An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurements and makes models of the patient's jaws during a preliminary visit. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period, making the patient much more comfortable socially. With complete dentures, a series of relines may be required throughout the first year to assure an accurate fit while your gums and bones heal.

Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque. Edentulous patients still need a regular dental exam by your dentist to evaluate any changes in your tissues and to inspect for oral cancer and other lesions. Dr. Farmer will help determine how often you need to come in to have your dentures cleaned and oral tissues evaluated.

If you have poorly fitting dentures, a reline may be needed to help them fit your gums in their current state. Over time, people's gums change shape and size while the denture remains the same as the day it was given to the patient. Often we are able to achieve a much better fit and more functionality by simply doing a reline, saving you money by not having to have a completely new set of dentures made. If your dentures do not fit well, call Dr. Farmer today to have an evaluation!

Wisdom Teeth

Dr. Farmer wants to help his patients achieve optimal oral health throughout their lives. Regular dental visits are an important part of your overall health care. As part of a dental visit, Dr. Farmer will examine you to determine if your wisdom teeth are healthy and properly positioned. Based on the condition of your mouth, Dr. Farmer may recommend removal of any of your wisdom teeth. Some wisdom teeth are able to be removed at Plaza Midwood Dentistry and sometimes it is better to refer you to a specialist such as an oral surgeon to evaluate their condition and to provide appropriate treatment.

Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:
pain
infection
cysts
tumors
potential damage to adjacent teeth
gum disease
tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Dr. Farmer may also recommend removal of teeth to prevent future problems or for other reasons, such as when removal is part of an orthodontic, restorative or periodontal treatment plan.

In addition, the condition of your mouth changes over time. Wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored because the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As with many other health conditions, as people age, patients are at greater risk for health problems and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth.

It is important for patients to know that they should always feel free to discuss treatment recommendations with Dr. Farmer, particularly if they do not understand or are unsure about the recommended treatment.

Dr. Farmer can explain why a particular course of treatment is recommended and prioritize a treatment plan to help you distinguish between conditions that need immediate attention and those that are less urgent.

Regular dental visits are important so Dr. Farmer can evaluate not just your wisdom teeth but also your overall oral health to help you prevent and manage dental disease and achieve optimal oral health.

Orthodontics (Braces)

Orthodontic treatment is used for many reasons in dentistry including to correct the alignment of teeth or misalignment of the teeth. This condition, known as malocclusion, involves teeth that are not aligned correctly and if treatment is not implemented, may cause damage to the patient's teeth in the future. In some cases, the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly and, although the teeth may appear straight, the individual may have an uneven bite. In this case, braces may be indicated to correct the alignment of the teeth.

Protruding, crowded, or irregularly spaced teeth and jaw problems may be inherited. Thumb-sucking, losing teeth prematurely, accidents, tongue piercings, and other habits can also lead to these conditions.

Correcting the problem can create a nice-looking smile, but more importantly, orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth. That is because crooked and crowded teeth make cleaning the mouth difficult, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and possibly tooth loss. An improper bite can interfere with chewing and speaking, can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, and can lead to problems with the jaws, among other issues.

While Dr. Farmer does not do orthodontics in his office, we have a wonderful referral network of orthodontists in Charlotte that will be as caring as our wonderful team and treat you like family just like us! Braces are not just for teenagers - we have many adult patients that undergo orthodontic treatment each year. There are many options that include Invisalign and Six Month Smiles which allow for a more esthetic treatment and do not require traditional metal braces.

If you are considering braces, no matter your age, mention it to Dr. Farmer or a member of our team at your next appointment!





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