Posts for category: Dental Procedures

By James P. Watts, DMD
April 07, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: anesthesia  
LocalAnesthesiaEliminatesPainCompletelyDuringDentalWork

Your teeth and gums are filled with nerves that make the mouth one of the most sensitive areas in the body. But thanks to local anesthesia, you won't feel a thing during your next dental procedure.

The word anesthesia means “without feeling or pain.” General anesthesia accomplishes this with drugs that place the patient in an unconscious state. It's reserved for major surgery where the patient will be closely monitored for vital signs while in that state.

The other alternative is local anesthesia, which numbs the area that needs treatment, while allowing the patient to remain conscious. The anesthetics used in this way are applied either topically (with a swab, adhesive patch or spray) or injected with a needle.

In dentistry, we use both applications. Topical anesthesia is occasionally used for sensitive patients before superficial teeth cleaning, but most often as an “opening act” to injected anesthesia: the topical application numbs the gums so you can't feel the prick of the needle used for the injectable anesthetic. By using both types, you won't feel any pain at all during your visit.

Because of possible side effects, we're careful about what procedures will involve the use of local anesthesia. Placing a sealant on the exterior of a tooth or reshaping enamel doesn't require it because we're not making contact with the more sensitive dentin layer beneath. We've also seen advances in anesthetic drugs in which we can now better control the length of time numbness will persist after the procedure.

All in all, though, local anesthesia will make your dental care more comfortable — both for you and for us. Knowing you're relaxed and comfortable allows us to work with ease so we can be unhurried and thorough. By keeping pain out of the equation, your dental care has a better chance for a successful outcome.

If you would like more information on managing discomfort during dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry.”

By James P. Watts, DMD
March 28, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  
ThreeThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutRootCanalTreatments

The term “root canal” is a part of our social lexicon, and not always with a positive meaning. But contrary to its negative reputation, a root canal treatment can make all the difference in your dental health.

Here are 3 things you may not know about this important procedure.

A root canal treatment is a “tooth” saver. Decay deep inside the tooth pulp puts the entire tooth at risk. The infection not only destroys nerves and tissue in the pulp, it has a direct path to the root through tiny passageways known as root canals. By cleaning out this infected tissue, then filling the empty pulp chamber and the root canals with a special filling, the procedure stops the disease from further harm and seals the tooth from future infection. Without it, it’s highly likely the tooth will be lost and other teeth threatened by the infection.

A root canal doesn’t cause pain — it relieves it. The biggest misconception about root canal treatments is their supposed painfulness. That’s just not true, thanks to anesthetic techniques that numb the teeth and gums — and any discomfort afterward is quite manageable with mild anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. The procedure actually stops the real pain, caused by the infection damaging and finally killing the tooth’s nerves, when it stops the infection.

Root canal treatments are even more effective thanks to recent advancements. Not all infected tooth situations are the same: some teeth have smaller offset passageways called accessory canals that grow off a larger root canal that can be quite difficult to detect and access. Missing them can leave the door open for re-infection. In recent years, though, endodontists, specialists in root canal disorders, have improved the way we address these complications using advanced technologies like specialized microscopic equipment and new filling techniques. The result: a lower risk of re-infection and a higher chance of long-term success.

Hopefully, you’ll continue to enjoy good dental health and won’t need a root canal treatment. But if you do, rest assured it won’t be the unpleasant experience you might have thought — and will be a welcomed solution to pain and threatening tooth loss.

If you would like more information on root canal treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”

By James P. Watts, DMD
March 26, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures

Healthy SmileWhat's one of the most popular aesthetic dental treatments? It's porcelain veneers, shells of tooth-shaped ceramic bonded to the front of teeth which have defects in color, shape, size, and texture. Dr. James Watts, your Mystic cosmetic dentistry expert, places veneers singly or as a component of a comprehensive smile makeover. Either way, patients love the results.

What is a dental veneer?

Also termed a dental laminate, a porcelain veneer disguises the front side of a tooth which is healthy but cosmetically marred. Veneers strengthen teeth which have weakened structure or have cracks, fissures, or large chips. Also, when teeth are so deeply stained they cannot respond to professional teeth whitening, veneers are wonderful options.

Veneers and you

You should know that porcelain veneers are permanent refurbishments. The treatment involves removal of a thin portion of enamel which changes dental contours and appearance.

After a complete examination, X-rays, oral impressions, and formulation of a treatment plan, Dr. Watts will gently resurface the enamel. This typically needs nothing more than local anesthetic. Also, he'll place temporary laminates on your teeth so your smile looks normal as you wait for the final veneers.

In a week or so, you'll come back to the office for placement of the permanent veneers. A special tooth-colored cement and curing light ensure the bond is strong. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry says that fitting, adjusting and bonding the veneers are very important to appearance, oral function, patient comfort, and overall longevity of this smile enhancement. So you and your Mystic cosmetic dentist will work together for best result.

Most patients find they adjust to their porcelain veneers in a week or so. Care is the same as for any other tooth: brush twice daily, and floss once a day. See Dr. Watts every six months for a cleaning and examination and for any concerns or problems you may have after veneer placement. Expect your quality veneers to last for many years--a decade or more with good care and gentle use (avoid peanut brittle, biting your fingernails, and the like).

Find out more

Custom-made porcelain veneers are just one of the many cosmetic dental treatments Dr. James Watts offers in his Mystic, CT, office. To learn more about how to reach your smile goals or to ask any questions about cosmetic dentistry, call his office at (860) 536-6446.

By James P. Watts, DMD
February 26, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns  
NotallDentalCrownsSharetheSameQualityofLife-Likeness

Dental crowns are an essential means for restoring damaged or unattractive teeth. A well-crafted crown not only functions well, it looks and blends seamlessly with the rest of the natural teeth.

Crowns are artificial caps that cover an entire visible tooth, often used for heavily decayed or damaged teeth or as added protection after a root canal treatment. Most crowns are produced by a dental lab, but some dentists are now creating them in-office with computer-based milling equipment. On the whole, the various crowns now available function adequately as teeth—but they can vary in their appearance quality.

In the early to mid 20th Century the all-metal crown was the standard; but while durable, it could be less than eye-pleasing. Although more life-like dental porcelain existed at the time, it tended to be brittle and could easily shatter under chewing stress.

Dentists then developed a crown that combined the strength of metal with the attractiveness of porcelain: the porcelain fused to metal or PFM crown. The PFM crown had a hollow, metal substructure that was cemented over the tooth. To this metal base was fused an outer shell of porcelain that gave the crown an attractive finish.

The PFM reigned as the most widely used crown until the mid 2000s. By then improved forms of porcelain reinforced with stronger materials like Lucite had made possible an all-ceramic crown. They’re now the most common crown used today, beautifully life-like yet durable without the need for a metal base.

All-ceramics may be the most common type of crown installed today, but past favorites’ metal and PFM are still available and sometimes used. So depending on the type and location of the tooth and your own expectations, there’s a right crown for you.

However, not all crowns even among all-ceramic have the same level of aesthetic quality or cost—the more life-like, the more expensive. If you have dental insurance, your plan’s benefits might be based on a utilitarian but less attractive crown. You may have to pay more out of pocket for the crown you and your dentist believe is best for you.

Whatever you choose, though, your modern dental crown will do an admirable, functional job. And it can certainly improve your natural tooth’s appearance.

If you would like more information on dental restorations, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By James P. Watts, DMD
January 18, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: cosmetic dentistry  

A wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures are available for helping you achieve the smile you desire. Some available procedures include teeth whitening, cosmetic fillings, veneers, bonding, and contouring and reshaping. A dentist can help you decide which cosmetic dentistry procedure is right for you. Depending on your needs, you might even choose more than one procedure to achieve the smile you desire. Dr. James Watts is your dentist for cosmetic dentistry in Mystic, CT.

Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening treatments available through your dentist’s office are an effective way to quickly refresh your smile. Within your first one hour in-office whitening session, your teeth could be several shades whiter with the results lasting for years before additional treatments are needed.

Cosmetic Fillings

Cosmetic fillings are an aesthetically pleasing alternative to other types of dental fillings, such as the traditional silver amalgam fillings. If you prefer a more discreet option for filling cavities, cosmetic fillings might be right for you. Cosmetic fillings help strengthen and restore infected teeth just like other types of fillings, but have the benefit of being tooth-colored so they blend in and look like part of the natural tooth.

Veneers

Dental veneers are an effective way to transform the appearance of teeth with certain types of cosmetic imperfections. Veneers can be used to improve the shape, size, or color of teeth that are misshaped, slightly crooked, chipped, cracked, stained, or discolored. Veneers are thin covers placed against the front surface of problem teeth. Once in place, veneers look and function like natural teeth.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure that can be used to repair chips and cracks in teeth, as well as other cosmetic problems. A resin material is applied to the problem area. For example, resin can be applied to a chipped tooth to fill in the area that has been chipped off. A special light is then used to dry and harden the resin material, which permanently bonds to the tooth as it dries.

Contouring and Reshaping

Contouring and reshaping is a type of cosmetic dental procedure that can correct the shape of teeth that are misshaped. To contour problem areas, small amounts of enamel are gradually shaved away until the tooth is reshaped appropriately. Your dentist for cosmetic dentistry in Mystic can determine if any problem teeth would benefit from contouring and reshaping.

If you are ready to rejuvenate your smile, there is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that is right for you. For cosmetic dentistry in Mystic, CT schedule an appointment with Dr. Watts by calling the dental office at (860) 536-6446.