Restoring Your Bite’s Function and Your Smile’s Healthy Appearance
Did you know that good oral health has benefits that extend beyond your mouth? When tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems arise, neglecting to treat them can have a profound effect on your overall health. The discomfort and embarrassment of an unhealthy mouth will affect you psychologically, and an inability to eat without pain and difficulty can affect your physical health, possibly causing malnutrition.
Tooth decay is one type of infection that is incapable of healing on its own. If you do not seek treatment for a cavity, it will extend to the tooth pulp and cause severe pain and infection, which can spread to other parts of your body, cause tooth loss, and damage your jawbone. The earlier you receive treatment for dental issues, the more likely you are to retain your natural teeth for your entire life, thus increasing your chances for better overall health.
Helping You Regain Your Smile
Dr. Hawks provides comprehensive general dentistry, including treatments for decayed, infected, damaged, or misaligned teeth. While the goal of general dentistry is to help you achieve optimal functioning of your teeth and gums, Dr. Hawks is a cosmetic dentist at heart, and he always takes aesthetics into consideration, ensuring that your smile is beautiful as well as healthy. We invite you to explore the quality general dental services we offer to patients in the Des Moines area.
Root Canal Treatment
Giving Teeth New Life with Root Canal Treatment
Teeth are the only parts of the body that cannot heal and repair themselves. If decay is not treated in the early stages with a filling or a crown, it will continue to eat away at the tooth structure until it reaches the tooth pulp, which is the center of the tooth filled with living tissues.
Even though the pulp contains blood and lymph vessels, once an infection has infiltrated the area, white blood cells cannot reach the tooth to help heal and repair these tissues. A fracture or break can also expose the tooth pulp, making it vulnerable to infection. If you do not seek treatment for your infected tooth, your pain and swelling will not only intensify, but you may also develop an abscess, lose your tooth, and experience damage to your jawbone. The standard procedure for this type of infection is root canal therapy.
Needing Root Canal Treatment
While some patients do not have obvious symptoms with a tooth infection, most people will experience pain with biting and chewing or sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks. You may also notice swelling of your gums and even a pimple in the area, which indicates an abscess, an accumulation of pus at the tip of the tooth root that must be drained by Dr. Hawks.
Saving Teeth from Extraction or Loss
If the dentist determines that you require root canal therapy, he will commence by numbing the area. We offer a number of sedation options for our apprehensive patients, as well. The procedure begins by creating an opening in your tooth, to access the root canal. From there, Dr. Hawks will remove the infected tissue and debris. He will sterilize this space and fill the space with dental material that will restore stability and prevent further infection. In some cases, the tooth might still be too unstable to stand alone after the procedure. If this occurs, the dentist can place a crown restoration on that tooth, which will provide protection against further decay and infection, as well as added stability.
Making Cavities Disappear with Tooth-Colored Fillings
Cavities, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, aren’t just a problem for children who eat too many sugary treats. Many adults place themselves at a high risk of developing tooth decay without realizing it. When you eat starches and sugars, they mix with the bacteria in your mouth to create acids that destroy the enamel, or outer layer, of a tooth. The soft spots created by acids are called cavities and left unchecked, they will extend into the dentin, which is the next layer of the tooth.
You can help prevent cavities by reducing the number of sugars you eat or at least eating them as part of a larger meal, which reduces their acidic effects. You should also brush frequently with fluoridated toothpaste to remove acidic plaque from teeth before it can cause damage, as well as floss to remove this substance from between teeth. If you do develop a cavity, you should seek treatment from your West Des Moines general dentist as soon as possible so that it can be repaired with a filling.
Filling Materials that Blend In with Your Teeth
Dr. Hawks uses natural-looking white fillings to treat tooth decay. Made of composite resin, which is a durable plastic material, these fillings can be shaded to create a color that ideally matches your tooth. Composite resin is the same material that Dr. Hawks uses to perform dental bonding, a common cosmetic dental procedure that improves the appearance of stained, chipped, or discolored teeth. Your tooth-colored filling, which actually serves to strengthen the tooth structure, will be virtually undetectable.
Restoring Teeth to a Healthy, Beautiful State
Filling placement by your West Des Moines dentist begins with him isolating the tooth to make sure it stays dry during the procedure. He will then remove the decayed or infected part of the tooth with a dental instrument and slightly etch the surface of the prepared space so that the filling material will bond better. Next, Dr. Hawks will place the composite resin onto the tooth in layers and shine a special light on the material to harden it. The final step in the process is for Dr. Hawks to shape the filling to make sure it is a good fit with the opposing teeth when biting, and to polish it so that it blends and resembles natural tooth structure.
Making Your Tooth Whole Again
Your West Des Moines dentist may place a crown on your tooth for one of many reasons. Teeth that have been weakened by large areas of decay or cracks can be restored with a dental crown. Dr. Hawks may also place crowns on teeth that are broken, worn, or have large fillings that may need extra support, as well as teeth that have received a root canal treatment. Crowns are also used as the anchoring structures for a dental bridge and as restorations placed atop a dental implant.
Customizing Crowns to Meet Everyone’s Needs
A crown is a dental restoration that covers the entire tooth or at least the part of the tooth that shows in the mouth. Also called a cap, a crown can be constructed from a variety of materials that vary in both durability and aesthetics.
For a more natural-looking solution, Dr. Hawks offers all-ceramic crowns, including those made with zirconia, which offers the strength of a PFM crown and the translucency of a natural tooth. We partner with a trusted dental lab where skilled technicians can create lovely, highly realistic dental crowns.
Placing a Dental Crown to Protect Your Tooth
Crowns rely on more than just dental cement for optimal bonding. Dr. Hawks must give your tooth the proper shape and taper so that the crown will grip it. He will start by removing decay from the tooth, just as he would for a filling. Next, he will use a dental instrument to shape the tooth. If you have insufficient tooth structure, due to wear or breakage, Dr. Hawks can build it up with a filling material first.
After he achieves the proper tooth shape, he will take an impression of your mouth and send it to his dental laboratory, where your crown will be handcrafted to his specifications. In the meantime, you will wear a temporary crown so that you can continue to eat and function normally. He will call you back to his West Des Moines dental office when your crown is ready, at which time he will remove the temporary restoration and place the permanent one using strong dental cement. Your new restoration will look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth.