General and Cosmetic Dentistry | Family Dentistry | Aliso Viejo, CA
Call Us Today: 1-949-716-6900

Teeth Restoration

fillings_onThe concept of a “filling” is replacing and restoring your tooth structure that is damaged due to decay or fracture with a material. We will replace old, broken-down amalgam/metal fillings that contain traces of mercury with white (composite) fillings to restore your smile and teeth to a more natural look and feel.

With today’s advancements, no longer will you have to suffer the embarrassment of unsightly and unhealthy silver amalgam fillings or metal margins of the past. Eliminate the dark, black appearance in your teeth with new-age, state-of-the-art, tooth-colored resin or porcelain materials.

Advantages of White (Composite) Fillings vs. Silver Amalgam Fillings:

  • White fillings strengthen the tooth; they bond to the tooth by restoring most of its original shape. Silver amalgams, on the other hand, weaken the teeth and make them more susceptible to breaking. Broken teeth can be very expensive to replace; white fillings save time and money in the long run.
  • White fillings are more natural; They are preferred by most patients because of their natural color, comfort and overall appearance and feel compare to silver amalgam fillings.
  • White fillings greatly reduce hot and cold sensitivity compared to the silver amalgam fillings.
  • Restorations with white fillings require less removal of tooth, smaller holes and less structure to place than those with silver amalgam fillings, especially in new cavities restoration.
  • White fillings are healthier because no traces of mercury are used, unlike silver amalgams fillings.
crowns_onA crown is a permanent covering that fits over an original tooth that is either decayed, damaged or cracked. Crowns are made of a variety of different materials such as porcelain, gold, acrylic resin or a mix of these materials. Porcelain generally has the most natural appearance, although it is often less durable.

The treatment plan for a patient receiving a crown involves:

  1. Numbing the tooth to remove the decay in or around it.
  2. Re-sculpturing the tooth to provide an ideal fit for the crown.
  3. Making an impression of your teeth in order to create a custom-made crown (usually takes one to two weeks).
  4. Making a temporary crown out of acrylic resin and fitting it onto the tooth during the interim period when the permanent custom-made crown is being created.
  5. Applying the permanent crown (when received from the lab) by removing the temporary crown and fitting the permanent one onto the tooth.
  6. After ensuring that the crown has the proper look and fit, Dr. Lee cements it into place.
    This process generally consists of a minimum of 2-3 visits over a three to four week period.

Once the procedure is completed, proper dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, is required to maintain healthy, bacteria-free teeth, gums and crowns. This helps in the prevention of gum disease. Given proper care, your crowns can last a lifetime.

bridges_onA bridge is a dental device that fills a space that a tooth previously occupied. A bridge may be necessary to prevent:

  • Shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and resultant periodontal disease.
  • Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.

There are 3 main types of bridges:

  • Fixed bridge- this is the most popular and consists of a filler tooth that is attached to two crowns, which fit over the existing teeth and hold the bridge in place.
  • The “Maryland” bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth and consists of a filler that is attached to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth. The metal bands consist of a white-colored composite resin that matches existing tooth color.
  • The Cantilever bridge is often used when there are teeth on only one side of the span. A typical three-unit cantilever bridge consists of two crowned teeth positioned next to each other on the same side of the missing tooth space. The filler tooth is then connected to the two crowned teeth, which extend into the missing tooth space or end.
dentures_onA denture is a removable dental appliance replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissue. They are made to closely resemble your natural teeth and may even enhance your smile.

There are two types of dentures – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. A Partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from shifting.

A Complete denture may be either conventional or immediate. A conventional type is made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has healed, usually taking 4 to 6 weeks. During this time the patient will go without teeth. Immediate dentures are made in advance and immediately placed after the teeth are removed, thus preventing the patient from having to be without teeth during the healing process. Once the tissues shrink and heal, adjustments will have to be made.

Dentures are very durable appliances and will last many years, but may have to be remade, repaired, or readjusted due to normal wear.

Reasons for dentures:

  • Complete Denture – Loss of all teeth in an arch.
  • Partial Denture – Loss of several teeth in an arch.
  • Improving chewing, speech, and digestion.

What does getting dentures involve?

The process of getting dentures requires several appointments, usually over several weeks. Highly accurate impressions (molds) and measurements are taken and used to create your custom denture. Several ‘try-in’ appointments may be necessary to ensure proper shape, color, and fit. At the final appointment, Dr. Lee will precisely adjust and place the completed denture, ensuring a natural and comfortable fit.

It is normal to experience increased saliva flow, some soreness, and possible speech and chewing difficulty, however this will subside as your muscles and tissues get used to the new dentures.

You will be given care instructions for your new dentures. Proper cleaning of your new dental appliance, good oral hygiene, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new dentures.

Common causes for the need of Root Canal (endodontic) treatment:

  • Inflamed/infected tooth pulp
  • Severe sensitivity to hot and cold elements
  • Tooth decay
  • Chipped or broken tooth
  • Blow to the tooth
  • Swelling or tenderness near the infected tooth
  • Repeated dental procedures on a tooth
  • Please contact our office for an evaluation if you experience any of the symptoms above.

Root Canal

rootCanal_onA root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, re-shapes the canal and replaces it with strengthening filler.

A cavity is the result of superficial decay of the enamel of the tooth. Left long enough, this decay can burrow into the deeper reaches of the tooth, causing extensive damage to tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, dentists can perform a root canal, preserving the tooth and retaining its original integrity.

Procedure

  1. Dr. Lee will provide the patient with anesthesia.
  2. The tooth is opened to allow for removal of infected or dead dental pulp.
  3. The tooth is comprehensively cleaned, including any cracks and canals.
  4. With special tools, Dr. Lee re-shapes the canals.
  5. The tooth is filled again with cutting edge biocompatible filling material.
  6. A temporary covering is used to cover the access opening.
  7. Patient MUST see Dr. Lee or their regular dentist quickly for a permanent restoration of the tooth.

In some cases of root canal, our office may refer you to another endodontic professional.

ExtractionThere are a number of reasons Dr. Lee might recommend that you have a tooth, or even several teeth, extracted. Listed below are some of these reasons:

Broken, cracked, or extensively decayed teeth can be extraction candidates.
Some teeth will have extensive decay (dental caries) or else will have broken or cracked in such an extreme manner that an extraction might be considered the best, or at least a reasonable, solution. Of course there will be a number of factors that will come into play with any specific situation. In some cases the obstacles that present themselves might be so formidable that a repair for the tooth is simply not possible. In other cases the cost of needed dental treatment or else a questionable long-term outlook for the success of the treatment may be the reason an extraction is chosen.

Teeth that are unsuitable candidates for root canal treatment should be extracted.
Some teeth may require treatment of the nerve space that lies within them (root canal treatment) in order to make a repair. While most teeth typically are candidates for root canal treatment there can be complicating factors that remove this option. If this is the case and needed root canal treatment cannot be performed then the extraction of the tooth is indicated.

Teeth associated with advanced periodontal disease (gum disease) may need to be pulled.
By definition, teeth that have experienced the effects of advanced periodontal disease (gum disease) are teeth whose supporting bone has been damaged. In general, as periodontal disease worsens, a tooth is supported by less and less surrounding bone, often to the point where the tooth becomes loose. In those cases where significant bone damage has occurred and a tooth has become excessively mobile extraction of the tooth may be the only option.

Malpositioned or nonfunctional teeth may need to be extracted.

wisdomTeeth_onSome teeth are extracted because they are malpositioned. As an example, sometimes when wisdom teeth come in they lie in a position that proves to be a constant source of irritation to the person’s cheek (by either rubbing against the cheek or causing the person to bite it). As a solution, Dr. Lee may suggest that the offending wisdom teeth be extracted.

Some teeth might be extracted because they provide very little service to the dental patient but do offer risk for becoming problematic. A common example is a wisdom tooth that has come in but has no matching tooth to bite against. Wisdom teeth are typically in a region of the mouth that is hard to clean, thus placing them and their neighboring tooth at greater risk for decay and periodontal disease. Depending on the precise circumstances that they find, Dr. Lee may advise his patient that removing a nonfunctional tooth might be in that patient’s best long-term interest in regards to maintaining good oral health.

Impacted teeth are often extracted. Impacted teeth are teeth whose positioning in the jaw bone is such that they cannot erupt into normal alignment. So by definition, impacted teeth are malpositioned and because they are malpositioned they are often nonfunctional. This combination of factors makes impacted teeth common candidates for extraction.

Tooth extractions may be required in preparation for orthodontic treatment (braces).
When orthodontic treatment is performed for a patient, Dr. Lee is trying to perfect the alignment of the patient’s teeth but he can only do so within the confines of the size of the person’s jaws. Especially in those cases where a large discrepancy exists between the size of the patient’s jaws and the needed space required for the improved alignment of their teeth, some strategically located teeth may need to be extracted.

implants_onDental implants are artificial tooth replacements that were first developed half a century ago. They arose from the patient’s need to secure loose-fitting dentures. Since the advent of the implant, engineering and enhancements to the implant have enabled dentists to expand the implant’s usefulness, including the replacement of missing or lost teeth.

Today, implant techniques provide a wide range of tooth replacement solutions including:

  • Single Tooth Replacement
  • Anterior Replacement
  • Posterior Replacement
  • Full Upper Replacement

Type of Implants

The root implant is by far the most popular. It is the most effective because it mirrors the size and shape of a patient’s natural tooth. This implant is often as strong as the patient’s original tooth. The implant or artificial root is placed into the jawbone under local anesthesia, then allowed to heal and integrate with the bone. Once the healing process is completed and the jawbone is attached to the implant, the patient returns to the dental office where the implant is fitted with the new tooth. This process generally takes anywhere from three to eight months.

The plate form implant is ideal in situations where the jawbone is not wide enough to properly support a root implant. The plate form implant is long and thin, unlike the root implant, and anchors into thin jawbones. It is inserted the same way as a root implant. In certain cases, the plate form implant is immediately fitted with the restoration without waiting for the healing process to run its course.

The subperiosteal implant is used when the jawbone has receded to the point where it can no longer support a permanent implant.

What Exactly Does Dental Implant Involve?

First, you will need to discuss your options with Dr. Lee. Together, you will decide whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. Dr. Lee will take a complete dental history, x-rays, and complete a thorough oral examination. If you are a candidate for implant surgery, the procedure is as follows:

  • Surgical placement of the implant(s) into the bone. This is usually done right in the office, with a local anesthetic. After surgery, there is a healing period of approximately four months. During this time, the implants fuse to the bone by a process known as osseointegration.
  • Next, there is a minor surgical exposure of the top of the implant, whereby Dr. Lee will attach the post to the implant. The function of the post is to become the support for either one tooth or a set of teeth. This is a short procedure that usually requires only local anesthesia.
  • The last phase is the restorative phase. Dr. Lee will take impressions and then make a prosthesis that will attach to the implants. This will require several visits. Once completed, your mouth will be restored to natural looking strong teeth.

Post Implant Care

Although we always recommend proper oral care for maintaining good dental health, it is especially important when a patient has received a dental implant. Bacteria can attack sensitive areas in the mouth when teeth and gums are not properly cleaned, thus causing gums to swell and jaw bones to gradually recede. Recession of the jawbone will weaken implants and eventually make it necessary for the implant to be removed. We advice patients to visit us or their other preferred dentists at least twice a year to ensure the health of their teeth and implants. Dental implants can last for decades when given proper care.

woman teethThe success of a dental implant, its ability to support a dental restoration, is very much dependent upon how much bone is available in the site where the implant is placed. There are lots of things that affect the bone volume including things like periodontal disease, trauma and infections and it is not unusual to open up a site in the mouth for implant placement and find out that some of the critical supporting bone is missing. No problem…. We have great techniques available to us to replace missing bone. We can increase the height of bone and the width of bone. We can fill in anatomical voids in bone thereby creating new bone and we can fill in all sorts of defects that develop when teeth are lost. We can even use grafting techniques to prevent the loss of bone in circumstances where bone would normally be lost like the extraction of a tooth.

Replacing missing bone or adding to existing bone is very often essential to the success of a dental implant and the ensuing restoration. The techniques to do this are well documented and should be used when indicated by any dentist who places dental implants. Most of us will have a good idea when additional bone or bone repair will be necessary before actually starting the placement of a dental implant and the patients should be informed of this possibility. Sometimes, however, we do get fooled and run into areas where unexpected bone grafting is indicated. As long as the dentist is prepared to replace or add to the existing bone and the patient understands the bone grafting procedure, there should not be any problem with these techniques.