General dentistry is the aspect of our practice where we help you prevent dental disease and other problems, help you get well when it is present, and help you restore your mouth to look, feel and function at its best. Isn’t life better that way? We can help you by restoring teeth that are broken down, and replacing them when they’re missing. We can help keep your gums healthy, doing our part during hygiene appointments and teaching you to do your part at home. The healthy life of the body depends on the mouth being healthy too! It’s an honor to be your general dentist, and to reassure you when you have your exam that everything’s OK. We take our responsibility in this partnership to care for your health very seriously.
Our general services include:
Preventing disease is always better than having to manage it. We are not satisfied simply to wait until you have a problem. Our aim is to help you help yourself. A lifetime of a healthy mouth is the result of a partnership between us. We are here to coach you, teach you, guide you. And we are here to be responsible for the part of the professional. The days are gone when people had to resign themselves to losing their teeth when they get “old” – whatever that is! Both gum disease and dental decay can be prevented to a large degree. Let us work with you to show you how!
Sealants are used to keep food and plaque out of the deep grooves of your, or your children’s, back teeth. They do not require anesthetic, and they can help prevent tooth decay when they are done properly. They are not a “guarantee,” but they are especially helpful for teeth that have a deep-grooved, gnarly groove pattern on them.
When teeth have decay, small chips, or other smaller loss of structure problems, bonded resin fillings are a great way to fix them up. The bonded resin fillings adhere to tooth structure and add strength to the tooth. The older silver-mercury filling material (“amalgam”) never did that. It only weakens teeth. If we wouldn’t use a material on one of our kids, we wouldn’t use it for you either. That’s why we haven’t placed amalgam in our patients’ teeth in 20 years. Resin fillings are tooth-colored, they bond to the tooth for strength, the cost is relatively low, and they last reasonably well. When indicated, they are a great way to care for your teeth.
A crown takes care of a tooth by covering most or all of the biting surface. It circles around the tooth to add strength, and it can be made to preserve what you value about your tooth. We do not plug patients into a CAD/CAM machine to make one-size-fits-all type of crown for our patients. Instead, Steve Hockel, in Hockel Dental Lab, makes our crowns on-site.
Depending on the material and the design, a crown can serve one or more of the following benefits for you:
1. It can be made to look very natural
2. It can be designed to preserve as much of your tooth as possible
3. Crowns can be made to be very durable
4. Crowns can match the wear compatibility of your natural teeth.
Let us know what the most important benefit(s) are to you, and we’ll help you choose the best type of crown for you.
When one or more teeth are missing, a fixed bridge is one option to replace them. This is not the kind that some people think of, one that is removable by the patient. A fixed bridge is like two crowns with a replacement (“false”) tooth connected between them. The whole bridge is cemented in place and is not intended to come out. Bridges can look very natural, and can be strong and durable. If you want to floss next to the replacement tooth, however, it requires special use of a floss threader.
Implants are a great way to replace missing teeth. They involve placing a titanium metal part where the root of the missing tooth used to be. After a matter of months, it bonds to the jaw bone so strongly that we can fasten a tooth to it. This replacement tooth is very strong, and does not depend on neighboring teeth for support. It’s much easier to floss than the teeth on bridges. While an implant may take some patience initially, it is a great way to give you back chewing ability and a beautiful smile.
When several or all teeth in the upper or lower jaw are missing, removable dentures are an option to replace them. When all the teeth are missing, the denture is called a “complete” denture. When some teeth remain, and some are replaced, the denture is called a “partial” denture. Sometimes these are just called “partials.” Complete and partial dentures are the most cost-effective way to replace multiple teeth. They can be very esthetic, they work well for chewing (though not as well as natural teeth!), and they can be cleaned thoroughly by removing them. The drawback, compared to other options, is the inconvenience of needing to remove them after every time you eat to clean them and maintain a healthy mouth. But many people find dentures a life-changing way to look their best, to be able to eat well, and to enjoy life smiling with a full set of nice teeth.
Orthodontics, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry
With our expertise both in orthodontics as well as in restorative/cosmetic dentistry, fixing and replacing teeth, we have a unique ability to help you find the best options for your needs. Sometimes, it’s best to move teeth a little (or a lot!) before restoring them. Other times, it’s best to restore teeth and not move them at all. Since we’re experts in both kinds of care, we do not have to refer you either for outside consultations to determine your options or for your treatment. As an example, our patient Connor’s mom thought he needed braces. All he needed was some simple bonded resin restorations to look great.
Or another example: Dana wanted porcelain veneers for a pretty smile, and that’s what she got. But her smile was a home run out of the ballpark because of some limited invisible orthodontics (with Crozats, not the over-used Invisalign®) to widen her dental arches first. Tell us your goals, and we’ll help you find your best options.
To learn more about general and family dentistry, please call our office at 925-478-7776 and make your appointment with our dentists here at Life Dental & Orthodontics.
We are proud to serve families in Walnut Creek, California, and the surrounding areas of Clayton, Concord, Lafayette, the San Francisco East Bay Area, and beyond.